CARLE PLACE, NY (October 7, 2021) -- Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) and State Senator Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) sent a letter to Senator Majority Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urging them to include vital anti-hunger and anti-poverty measures in the Build Back Better Plan, a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill designed to create jobs and spur economic development.
They were joined on the letter by 52 members of the New York State Legislature.
Across the country, more than 12 million children live in poverty, and about 13 million are likely to experience hunger at some point this year. Here in New York, one in five children is food insecure, meaning that they or members of their family skip meals or do not have enough food to eat. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has worsened food insecurity across the country, and more families rely on food banks and soup kitchens than ever before.
Temporary measures meant to provide aid to families during COVID-19, such as Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), increased SNAP benefits and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) have helped thousands of families cope with daily needs. But when these temporary measures end, many families who rely on them will be plunged back into hunger and poverty.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end child hunger and poverty,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of Committee on Social Services. “We have seen that it takes very little to lift whole families out of poverty. Including these vital anti-hunger and anti-poverty provisions in the Build Back Better Plan would have a transformational impact on families in need."
Senator Anna M. Kaplan, Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, said, “During the pandemic, we witnessed the power of the federal government to dramatically reduce child poverty and hunger through smart, targeted investment in programs that work, and as Congress considers the Build Back Better Plan, it’s critical that we expand these programs and make them permanent. We owe it to the children in our community to get this done, and I urge our Congressional delegation to ensure that it does.”
The letter urges Schumer and Gillibrand to work to:
- Expand the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children to ensure that food insecure children can continue to access food benefits during the summer months when their schools are closed;
- Extend the Child Tax Credit, which research has shown has already lifted 3 million children out of poverty; and
- Expand the Community Eligibility Provision allowing students schools to serve meals at no charge to all students without requiring them to apply for free or reduced-price meals.
Taken together, these measures have the potential to end childhood poverty and help families get back on their feet.
“With unrelenting hunger in my district and across our State, it is crucial to expand childhood nutrition programs and further bolster the federal Child Tax Credit in the Budget Reconciliation,” said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, Chair of the Senate Social Services Committee. “Hunger and poverty stifle childhood development and the consequences last a lifetime.”
Assemblymember Rosenthal and State Senator Kaplan are the sponsors of S.1151a/A.6881, the Hunger-Free Campus Act, which would provide grants to two- and four-year colleagues in New York State to address hunger among students. To qualify for the grants, the schools must operate on-campus food pantries, host a student-led hunger task force, identify a staff member to help students enroll in SNAP, conduct an annual survey on food insecurity on campus and develop a meal credit sharing program so that students with extra meal swipes on their account can donate them to students in need.