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The Food Bank for New York, which has been handing out groceries to poor New Yorkers for 25 years, reports that things are getting bad out there. The number of locals who say they have trouble paying for food has gone up 26 percent in the past recession year — from 3.1 to 4 million, or about 48 percent of New Yorkers (!). The increase in food poverty is also impressive when tracked from 2003, when Food Bank started recording it. Then it was 2 million people — we’ve doubled that in five years.
Do those figures seem high to you? Food Bank says that Columbia University calculates New Yorkers need to hit about 250 percent of the official poverty level (that is, about $43,000 per annum) to afford necessities, and New York has between three and four million people who aren’t making it.
If we haven’t noticed this alarming situation, it may be for the same reason Susan Cheever thinks nobody’s drinking anymore — we don’t hang out with the right people. On the other hand, Food Bank gets its info from the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducts “telephone interviews.” These people can’t afford food but they have phones? Wait till the Manhattan Institute hears about this!