Joel Berg, Hunger Free America
by Benjamin Fang
Aug 06, 2019 | 2247 views | 0 0 comments | 867 867 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As CEO of Hunger Free America, a nationwide anti-hunger direct service and advocacy group, Joel Berg is one of the country’s foremost experts on the issue.

The Manhattan-based nonprofit, formerly called the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, has also studied hunger issues in the city. The problem, Berg said, is not food access.

“Hunger is really an affordability issue,” he said. “The city is just unaffordable.”

Particularly for low-income families and low-wage workers, getting by in New York City is no easy task. In addition to skyrocketing rents, families have to pay for child care, transportation, clothing and school supplies. That leaves little money for food.

“We need to raise wages, make housing affordable and make the MTA affordable,” Berg said. “That’s the most important problem, that people just aren’t earning enough.”

Another issue is that safety nets are underutilized. One example is the in-classroom breakfast program in schools. Berg said while every school should offer breakfast in the classroom, the mayor has proposed cutting school breakfast.

“It’s outrageous,” he said. “They’ve basically been letting principals veto the program.”

On the federal level, Hunger Free America has strongly criticized the Trump administration’s cuts to SNAP, which they say will deprive more than 3 million people of nutrition assistance.

Berg has even talked to state officials about considering a legal action to prevent the cuts.

“I believe it’s illegal,” he said. “Federal law empowers states to take these options.”

Hunger Free America is trying to generate as many comments on its website to oppose the proposal.

“We will use every tool at our disposal,” Berg said.

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