Hunger report: Bronx hit hard

Despite financial cutbacks to Bronx food pantries, the stark demand for them continues to swell, according to a new report.

Even more startling is the number of Bronx children that go to bed hungry, standing at nearly 50%.

The report, compiled by the NYC Coalition Against Hunger, also highlighted the borough’s gradual struggle from its already squeezed food pantries, showing 56% of them lacked enough food for the hungry, even as 85% of these agencies saw a jump in the number of people they served this year.

Overall, the report found one in three Bronx locals lived in food-deprived homes in 2010-2012.

“The recent federal food stamp cuts will make all of this much worse,” said Joel Berg, the Coalition’s executive director. He unveiled the results a day before Thanksgiving at Part of the Solution (POTS), a food pantry on Webster Avenue in Fordham.

Gov. Cuomo personally visited the pantry earlier in the day, one of his rare stops in the borough, to help unload donated boxes of Thanksgiving meals with help from Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and state Senator Gustavo Rivera.

The report is not clear where the hungriest parts of the Bronx lie. POTS, a food pantry in the borough for decades, is not one to ask questions as matters of pride often keep clients from disclosing where they live.

The pantry is one of the few full-service pantries in the borough, with churches and other commnunity groups picking up the slack.

But the report does blame a lumbering economy, scaled back government funding and the ripple effects of Superstorm Sandy as culprits behind the food shortage.

Lack of financial resources compelled Bronxites to rely on pantries to get their next meal while Superstorm Sandy shuttered pantries throughout the city, forcing many to depend on the next available pantry for food.

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, representing working class to poverty-stricken neighborhoods such as Soundview and Hunts Point, called the hunger problem “an embarrassment” given the economic status of New York City, often linked as a beacon of prosperity.

His anger appeared to be directed at the city’s wealthiest, whom he believes are doing little to resolve the hunger problem.

“Before New York gives one more dime in tax breaks to the wealthiest,” he noted, “it must address this problem.”

Berg called the dichotomy “a tale of two food cities,” where meals are readily available to the haves while scant between the have nots.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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