FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2012
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Westchester Legislators Williams and Shimsky Volunteer at Food Bank in Greenburgh
BOL Republicans Condemned for Eliminating County Funding for Hungry Residents
Elmsford, NY – Two Democratic members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL), Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh) and MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), visited the Food Bank for Westchester warehouse here earlier this week and helped ready bags of food to be sent home in the backpacks of county school children.
While at the Food Bank facility, the two legislators, who were also joined by Congresswoman Nita Lowey, New York Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and staff from the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, learned about the Food Bank’s efforts to cope with growing demand and declining contributions from corporations—and feeding the hungry in Westchester County.
“More and more Westchester residents need help from Food Bank, including people in communities who normally don’t require help to stave off hunger,” said Williams, chair of the BOL’s Community Services Committee. “The need for programs that feed people exists throughout the county, even in places like Somers and Scarsdale. The Food Bank is performing heroically to keep up with demand.”
Through the Food Bank’s BackPack program, over 28,000 bags of weekend food are distributed weekly through 39 different program sites.
But keeping up with demand has not been easy, according to Food Bank for Westchester officials, who estimate that nearly one-fifth of the county’s population—200,000 people—are hungry or at risk of hunger; approximately half of these residents use the emergency food system regularly, with the other half using the system sporadically. A third of Westchester’s hungry are children under the age of 18.
Meanwhile, corporate donations are down, and the Food Bank must increasingly draw on its own resources to feed the hungry.
Both Legislators Williams and Shimsky strongly condemned the cutting of funding for Food Bank in the 2013 County Budget crafted by County Executive Rob Astorino, Republican legislators and two rogue Democrats. In fact, the Astorino-led budget also cuts funding for the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless, along with the Exchange Club Prevention Center’s soup kitchen and the senior nutrition program offered by Westchester Jewish Community Services.
“It is both shameful and foolhardy to entirely cut program funding for the hungry at a time when the demonstrable need among county residents is increasing,” said Shimsky. “The reckless, Grinch-like attitude among the elected leaders who supported and voted for these cuts will cause tremendous harm in our communities.”
Last year, Astorino also cut out all funding to the Food Bank and the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless from his proposed 2012 budget, but the Democratic supermajority was able to add back the funding. This year, with no supermajority, the BOL Republicans, along with Democrats Mike Kaplowitz and Virginia Perez, succeeded in keeping the funding out of the 2013 budget.