Next time you dine out at your favorite restaurant and complain that the food is too hot or too cold, or that the chef did not get the sauce “just right,” consider this:
400,000 people living in New York City suffer from moderate to severe hunger on a daily basis. 118,000 of them are children. In fact, in New York City, one in three children lives in poverty.
There are over 1,000 soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City, and 2,700 overall in New York State, serving 2 million New Yorkers annually. This year, they will serve 60 million meals to hungry, men, women and children. Yet, every day, they will turn away over 2,500 people for lack of resources.
In one of the wealthiest cities in world, these residents are still forced to choose between food for their children and other basic necessities.
While many of us are concerned with “eating healthy,” we forget that so many of our neighbors are simply concerned with eating. Fast food and convenience store items that are high in fat and sugar may be a staple when nothing else is affordable. In fact, the highest rates of obesity in the United States occur among communities with the highest poverty rates (which, statistically, also tend to be the least educated). The current economic downturn has certainly not made matters any better.
Research has shown that most health disparities in the United States are linked to differences in socioeconomic status. Perhaps surprisingly, an increasing number of middle-income New Yorkers are struggling to put food on the table. Among residents with annual household incomes between $25,000 and $49,999, that figure rose from 21% in 2003 to 39% in 2006, an increase of 86%.
Something needs to change. Education is the first step. Help us raise awareness of food insecurity in New York City as we also raise money for New Alternatives, an organization that serves homeless LGBT youth, and City Harvest, an organization that “rescues” unused food across the city and redistributes it to hungry New Yorkers.
On Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at 7:30 p.m., New Alternatives will graciously lend us their soup kitchen facilities for a dinner highlighting issues of hunger and food insecurity in New York City. For one night, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Will you get a lot to eat or a little? Find out on May 11th at New Alternatives, Middle Collegiate Church, 50 East 7th Street (off of Second Avenue, but entrance is on 7th Street).
This event is hosted by the Community and Social Equity Committee of the Manhattan Young Democrats. Guest Speakers will include City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and a representative from City Harvest. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased until May 8th. Proceeds will be donated to New Alternatives and City Harvest.