The Chapin Center for Public Policy of Long Island Cares determines the advocacy priorities for Long Island Cares, Inc.—The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank. We frequently support legislation designed to increase access to nutritious food for the diverse populations we serve through both our dedicated network of 352 member agencies which operate an array of 542 innovative direct service programs.
Realizing that hunger in America, and especially on Long Island, is an extremely complex multi-tiered societal issue, we also advocate for legislation which addresses and attempts to remedy the root causes of hunger, such as poverty and unemployment. As we are all aware, food insecurity is inextricably tied to income insecurity, it is our duty to go on record supporting legislation that preserves access to critical social service pro- grams and promotes vocational/job training services for the populations (veterans, seniors, and the homeless) benefitting from our services. Conversely, we oppose legislation which makes life more challenging for the people we collaboratively serve by denying or lessening their critical services and benefits. In recent years, Long Island Cares, Inc. has evolved into a more humanitarian focused organization utilizing nutrition services as a vehicle for economic empowerment to not only improve the quality of life for the agencies and clients we serve, but to also holistically uplift the region by improving the quality of life for all the Long Islanders by providing for those among us currently struggling to make ends meet.
Our Top Priorities for 2021
Make Taxation Fair for New York
We stand with the Long Island Association in continuing to advocate for the full reinstatement of SALT deductions as the federal cap on deductions inequitably impacts our region. A report issued in 2020 by the Rockefeller Institute of Government projected that New York State households pay an additional $12.3 billion in personal income taxes each year as a direct result of no longer having access to these deductions. Furthermore, it concluded that by 2025, the SALT cap could cost New York State taxpayers up to $15 billion annually.
Fight Military Hunger
We stand with Feeding America and MAZON in calling for the establishment of a Military Family Basic Needs Allowance (MFBNA) in the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. This would help tens of thousands of America’s brave men and women in uniform who currently struggle to feed their families. This problem has been well documented in numerous sources ranging from a Government Accountability Office report to various surveys of military households. The Pentagon also has data on the eligibility rates for free and reduced-price lunches at Department of Defense-run schools. We are proud to continue to advocate for this common sense allowance designed to help active duty service members with incomes at/or below 130% of the national poverty level. This is the very least we can do for our service members in the midst of the longest war in our nation’s history and who have been charged with responding to the myriad logistical challenges associated with COVID-19.
Recognizing Our Founder, Harry Chapin
It has been 41 years since Harry Chapin founded Long Island Cares, Inc.—The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank, and we cannot think of a more fitting tribute to the entertainer and philanthropist who had the vision to create Long Island’s First Food Bank. His commitment and willingness to fight for a hunger-free Long Island, New York, America, and world still fuel our mission. Nowhere is this more evident than in our new campaign for President Biden to convene a new Presidential Commission on Food Insecurity. This is the continuation of what Harry started in 1978 and is needed now more than ever due to the economic woes and increased hunger associated with COVID-19. In this spirit, it is time to properly acknowledge the man who used his celebrity for good and inspired a generation of celebrities to follow in his footsteps with the USPS commemorative stamp he rightfully deserves.
Suffolk & Nassau
Direct Assistance to Local Governments
Suffolk and Nassau County’s Industrial Development Agencies co-authored a report entitled “2020 Nassau and Suffolk Covid-19 Economic Impact,” which concluded that Long Island could lose up to 375,000 jobs and that through the colossal losses in tax revenues associated with the spread of COVID-19 both Counties may soon face a combined $3 billion budget deficit.
In this spirit, we stand with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in calling upon Congress for $2 billion in direct funding to Suffolk and Nassau Counties in the next stimulus package. We commend Suffolk and Nassau County government for reaching out to us to develop fast-acting programmatic solutions to fight the dramatically increased need for emergency food in various communities in their respective counties. Whether it was through the creation of a pop-up facility or increased mobile distributions, the responsiveness of each County has both inspired us and made the prerequisite connections for us to increase distribution in particularly hard hit communities. In our role as the regional food bank for Long Island, we fully realize that for Long Island to sustainably recover local government needs to have the resources required to meet the dramatic rise in demand for various health and human services.
Create a Presidential Commission on Hunger
Our founder, singer, songwriter, and activist, Harry Chapin, was instrumental in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger by the Carter Administration in 1978. When the Commission concluded in 1980, there were an estimated 20 million food insecure Americans. Today, as a direct result of immense strain imposed on the nation’s public health and economic systems by COVID-19, there are an estimated 54 million food insecure Americans. This marks an increase in food insecurity of greater than 46 percent since the onset of the pandemic and 170 percent since 1980. The time is right for America to conduct a thorough investigation on the root causes of hunger and to pull together both the key players in the fight to end hunger and most importantly representation from populations facing food insecurity at disproportionate rates to develop all-encompassing and inclusive solutions.
In this spirit, the CEO of Long Island Cares, Paule Pachter, is calling for a new Presidential Com-mission on Food Insecurity. The coalition to make this a reality is rapidly gaining momentum. WHY Hunger, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger through community empowerment and programmatic solutions, also founded by Harry Chapin, is on board. The Harry Chapin Foundation has pledged their support. Furthermore, we have had virtual meetings with several Members of Congress and various advocacy organizations asking how they can join the movement. The Long Island Association (the leading business organization in the region) included the creation of a new Presidential Commission on Food Insecurity as one of their top federal priorities for 2021, and Alexis and Billy Joel have added their endorsement to this proposal as well.
Increase Support for Federal Nutrition Programs
We commend Congress on the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R.133), which provides $400 million for food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and temporarily increases individual Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by 15 percent through the end of June 2021. Moreover, we applaud President Biden’s recent Executive Order to fight food insecurity, which boosted Pandemic-EBT benefits by 15 percent and strengthened SNAP in several significant ways. These executive actions authorize USDA to allow states to increase SNAP benefits delivered through emergency allotments, as well as direct USDA to initiate revising the Thrifty Food Plan, which advocates criticize for severely misjudging the costs of healthy food and the economic realities most low-income families face when trying to buy and prepare healthy food.
While we truly appreciate these recent actions, food banks such as Long Island Cares are still witnessing increases in demand of 60 percent or greater. In order to keep pace with this prolonged surge in need for our services, we stand with Feeding America and its network of 200 food banks across the nation in advocating for Congress to…
- Strengthen SNAP by extending the benefit boost for all recipients to at least 15 percent for the duration of the economic downturn.
- Increase funding to support food banks through an additional $900 million for food purchases through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
- Strengthen and extend Pandemic-EBT to ensure USDA has the authority needed to continue this important program through the summer and any future school closings.
- Expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit so that those most at risk of food insecurity have access to direct financial assistance during these trying times.
- Invest $543 million in the cold storage and transportation capacity of the nation’s char-itable food system.
Supporting Our Food Banks
The current State budget provides $35 million for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program. While we truly appreciate that this does not reflect a cut during such trying economic times, hunger advocates across the State are calling for HPNAP to receive an additional $6 million. Raising the HPNAP budget to $41 million would give the state’s regional food banks the capacity to purchase additional food at a time when most are experiencing increases in demand of greater than 60 percent. From an economic development standpoint, not only would this fight food in-security by allocating more resources to the State’s food banks, but it would also infuse the State’s farmers and producers with cash at a time when they are reeling due to the closures and restrictions associated with COVID-19.
We are proud to stand with our colleagues in Feeding New York State in supporting the expansion of the Nourish New York Program. We commend Governor Cuomo for creating this program in 2020 to address the strain imposed on the State’s emergency food system by COVID-19. This strategic program provides the State’s food banks with additional funding to purchase locally sourced meats, produce, and dairy. Nourish New York received $35 million in 2020, and we enthusiastically support the inclusion of an additional $25 million for 2021. Nourish New York funds afforded Long Island Cares the capacity to distribute an additional 483,000 pounds of locally sourced fish, yogurt, and cabbage in 2020, and we look forward to doing even more in 2021.
Support New York Veterans
We stand with veteran advocates from across the State in urging full funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer-to-Peer Support Program in 2021. The pandemic does not discriminate and the isolation associated with stay-at-home mandates has taken a severe toll on veterans who may be struggling with mental illness or post-traumatic stress. We are proud to partner with the Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program operators in both Suffolk and Nassau Counties and are amazed at how they transformed to meet the health, employment, and housing needs presented by their veteran clientele. Here on Long Island, the Dwyer Program is making home visits to align veterans with what-ever services they need as well as ensure they have the personal protective equipment required to stay safe during a global pandemic. Long Island Cares was proud to advocate alongside veteran service organizations across the state against proposed cuts to the program in 2020. While these collaborative efforts were successful and the funds were completely restored in the final Enacted Budget, the fight cannot end now. It is imperative these funds are immediately released so that the Dwyer Program has the necessary resources for their vital work to continue during these extremely challenging times.
Michael Haynes, M.P.A. Chief Government Affairs Officer
631.582.3663 ext. 202
Paule T. Pachter, A.C.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer
631.582.3663 ext. 101
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