For 21 years, The River Fund New York has been serving our communities on the basis of intense and very dedicated volunteer effort. Today, feeding some 140,000 beneficiaries per year, our organization, with its intrepid band of more than 75 volunteers continues to confront Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty in dozens of New York City Communities.
Going beyond these basic necessities, The River Fund also supports families with children in several important ways—among them our annual Back-to-School Giveaway, which benefits some 2,000 extremely needy children whose parents cannot afford the cost of backpacks and school supplies. During the week of August 27, 2012, we held Giveaway events in each of our three locations.
However, the month of September brought with it the terrifying news that extensive cuts in federal Food Stamp funding and Emergency Food Programs are being considered in Washington, D.C. Even more devastating is the fact that these cuts will disproportionately affect needy families in New York City.
In 2011, Congress already cut some 11million meals from New York City alone. Given the current harsh economic climate and lack of available employment, those cuts contributed to last year’s 40% increase in the incidence of hunger citywide. The River Fund has seen the ranks of its clients swell at an even greater rate—causing us to augment our Mobile Operations with the addition of a new Mobile Benefits Assistance Office Unit (please see attachment).
In an effort to confront this huge problem even more, we are also doubling our on-site Benefits Assistance office space as of October this year. We believe that the more we can enable low-income and needy families to access any available money-saving non-food benefits, the more we can help soften the blow caused by Food Stamp cuts. To streamline our efforts, The River Fund has partnered with SingleStopUSA to become a full-scale SingleStop provider.
This crucial partnership, funded by The Robin Hood Foundation, will allow us to become a single point of entry for our clients to access Food Stamps (if they don’t have them already), WIC (the federal support program for needy Women with Infants and Children), Medicaid, Rent and Heating Assistance, Legal Aid and some 40 other potential benefits programs—from both governmental and private sources.
Last year’s cuts to national Hunger Relief and Emergency Food Assistance programs had a brutal impact on our most desperate communities; but, because of the continued support from you, our friends, that we were able to augment the dwindling supplies of food from public sources with commercially available and private alternatives. Our heartfelt gratitude for this assistance. Thank you.
As we brace ourselves for the coming Winter—the toughest time of the year for those in need—we thank you, in advance, for your continued support of our work. In addition to our weekly distribution of groceries to needy households and seniors, we are preparing for our annual Winter-wear Distribution, Thanksgiving Program, Xmas Giftgiving and Shoes4Kids Giveaway. All of this at a time when our clients need support as they struggle with increased heating and electric bills, which affect their ability to pay rent. It all combines into a perfect storm in which New York’s poorest families are evicted into harsh, icy streets when most others are enjoying a season of festivities and abundance.
Thank you again for all you do to help us mitigate this extreme suffering—and bring hope to thousands of our needy neighbors.