Governor Andrew Cuomo was in the Bronx Wednesday to deliver Thanksgiving meals to needy New Yorkers, but also to help close the gap where federal food stamp benefits are falling short. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Governor Andrew Cuomo joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and others at Part of the Solution, also known as "POTS," a nonprofit group that assists low-income families in the Bronx.
The governor helped organize 100 Thanksgiving meals that will be distributed to those in need.
"There are a lot of New Yorkers who are in need this Thanksgiving," Cuomo said. "The economy is still slow. Believe it or not, about 15 percent of New Yorkers literally go hungry."
Food pantries in the Bronx and throughout the five boroughs are seeing a surge in demand this fall after the federal government cut back the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Known more commonly as food stamps, recipients are now getting fewer credits per month in order to buy food. Brenda Serrano used to get $450. Now, she gets $390.
"It's hard. I was cut off," she said. "For a family of five, I receive $390. Now, I got to spend cash to buy the rest of the stuff I need."
The Bronx economy has been struggling as well. Last month, the unemployment rate was 12.2 percent, the highest of any county in the state.
In Albany, the conversation is often about what needs to be done to help the upstate economy.
"While the upstate economy is struggling, we do have the highest unemployment rate here, and that's because while there's been a lot of investment in the borough, there hasn't been a lot of concentration on hiring people in this borough, and that's what we are trying to change," Diaz said.
"The state's economy is on the way back," Cuomo said. "We have more private-sector jobs than ever before in the history of the state, so that's good news. But the national economy is not doing what it needs to do, and we have more to do."
Last month, POTS served more meals to people than it ever had before in its 31-year history. They are on pace to break that record in the month of November as demand continues to increase.