This week, members of our team at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen sat down with a group of advocates and a representative from Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s office to discuss the extreme increase in need for food assistance that our agencies have seen over the past 18 months and the urgency of passing anti-poverty legislation in the federal government. This meeting included Kathryn Graybill from Broadway Community, Steven Deheeger from City Harvest, Jerome Nathaniel from City Harvest, and Keith Carr from City Harvest.
During the meeting, we shared some key statistics about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted New Yorkers visiting the soup kitchen and food pantry at Holy Apostles. This year, we are on track to serve 1.9 million meals by year-end. This surpasses the 1.2 million meals served in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. This astronomical increase in need has remained steady throughout 2021.
At the Soup Kitchen, we know that many of our guests are struggling to make ends meet despite the improving economy and the extension and increase of benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), unemployment benefits, and the temporary eviction moratorium. Our team, alongside our partners at City Harvest and Broadway Community, are urging Congress to increase and continue these benefits, as many are set to expire in the next month.
During the meeting, representatives from all three organizations reflected on the past 18 months and its challenges. Keith Carr, Senior Policy and Government Relations Manager at City Harvest, noted: “Our programs shouldn’t be called emergency food programs anymore because the emergency has gone on for so long, it’s now the day-to-day for too many people.”
Our team at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen supports the American Families Plan and are urging our representatives to make sure that anti-poverty provisions stay in the bill as it goes through the legislative process. The specific provisions we support include:
- Permanently increasing funding to SNAP so that food benefits reflect the true cost of groceries
- Extending unemployment benefits for those who are continuing to struggle to find work due to COVID-19
- Making the Child Tax Credit permanent, which has enabled low- and moderate-income families to access over $3,000 in tax credits and is projected to reduce child poverty by 50%
- Making summer EBT food benefits available for all kids across the country so that children and their families don’t skip meals over the summer
- Investments in nationwide universal Pre-Kindergarten education, which significantly reduces income inadequacy and childcare deserts.
So what’s next for the American Families Plan? The current plan is moving through the budget reconciliation process. This week, the Senate approved the framework of the $3.5 trillion budget plan. The next steps will include the House passing their budget plan and both chambers writing the budget bill. Then, both chambers of Congress will vote on the final budget once the details are finalized.
For so many of our guests, surviving day-to-day depends on action from our government. As we continue to fight to end COVID-19 and move towards recovery, we strive for an economic recovery that benefits all those struggling and suffering. We call on our government representatives to fight for our guests, and all their constituents, as they continue to work to pass legislation aimed at COVID-19 recovery.