Long Island Cares singled out two state lawmakers Wednesday and praised them for helping secure $34.5 million for food banks and pantries across New York, even though the amount was 32 percent short of what advocates had asked for in the annual state budget that just passed.
Accolades were heaped on Assemb. Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) and Assemb. Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) for putting their names on a letter that supported funding the state’s Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program at the $51 million level originally requested by managers of those food banks and pantries. The men were among about 60 lawmakers who signed the letters, one letter for each chamber.
“I’d like to thank you for your leadership in the fight against hunger,” Michael Haynes, Long Island Cares’ chief government affairs officer, said Wednesday at the organization’s headquarters in Hauppauge.
More than 3 million New York State residents rely on emergency food programs for basic needs. About 316,000 of them live on Long Island.
The $34.5 million allotted this year is not enough to meet increased demand that advocates said was prompted by rising food costs and cutbacks in federal funding.
Ra and Crespo, who joined most of their colleagues and voted for the state’s $155 billion budget, chalked up their failure to secure the full $51 million by noting that this year’s funding is more than the $28 million the groups received in the 2014-15 budget.
“Any given programs that you’re looking to increase funding, it usually ends up being an incremental process,” Ra said.