MINEOLA, NY - May 4, 2011 - While unemployment figures have dropped slightly in recent months, higher food and gasoline prices are forcing many Long Islanders to seek supplemental food assistance through local soup kitchens food pantries and emergency feeding programs, according to Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest, Long Island's largest hunger relief organization.
"The effects of hunger continue to grow locally despite signs of an improving economy," said Ms. Shubin Dresner. "No community is immune, nor is any socio-economic group to the effects of hunger here on Long Island and across the country."
In its ongoing mission to seek solutions to the often unrecognized, yet insidious effects of hunger in our communities, Island Harvest and its MICAH (Mobilized Interfaith Coalition Against Hunger) program is hosting a conference, Combating Hunger on Long Island: Addressing the Obstacles. The keynote speaker will be Kevin Concannon, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.
Combating Hunger on Long Island: Addressing the Obstacles will be held on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Hofstra University's Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center in Hempstead. Undersecretary Concannon is scheduled to speak at 9:30 a.m. and will discuss the upcoming Farm Bill and its effect on hunger and nutrition, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food insecurity and other related topics. Other issues to be discussed throughout the conference include developing strategies in effective advocacy for childhood and senior citizen nutrition programs and addressing the barriers to accessing healthy food locally.
"Eating a variety of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables recommended by the USDA is often expensive," said Ms. Dresner. "All too often healthy food is one of the first things cut from a family's budget when faced with financial difficulties." Among the goals of the conference is to develop solutions to overcome such problems and through collaborative efforts with Long Island's farming community, make such healthy foods available.
A study conducted last year by Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization, found an estimated 285,000 Long Islanders- including 110,000 children - face the risk of going hungry every day. Hunger in America 2010: The Local Report for Long Island is the first research study to capture the connection between the largest economic calamity since the Great Depression and an increased need for emergency food assistance. The report also found that each week, nearly 65,000 Long Islanders are accessing the food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding programs serviced by Island Harvest.
As a program of Island Harvest, MICAH's mission focuses on education and advocacy for the services, programs and public policies that remove the barriers to food security on Long Island. Attendees at this conference will leave, not only with clear action items to combat hunger, but with a usable advocacy toolkit to help in this pursuit. This toolkit will include both educational information and practical advocacy tips.
The conference will conclude with a keynote wrap-up and closing remarks by Reverend Derrick Boykin, Northeast Regional Organizer, Bread for the World. Seating is limited and registration is required. To register, log on to www.islandharvest.org/MICAH or call Nicole Vitale at 516-294-8528, extension 104.