SNAP

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

People who use food stamps to purchase groceries should get their shopping done early this weekend, as the system will be down Sunday morning to go through an upgrade.

The state is switching providers for its public assistance program, now known as SNAP benefits. To do so, benefit recipients debit like cards won’t work from midnight Saturday until noon Sunday.

So the state’s benefit provider office is encouraging people to do their shopping beforehand.

The number of people who are hungry in central and northern New York is climbing. The latest survey from the Food Bank of Central New York shows an increase in food requests as well as some changes in the kinds of people who are asking for help.

At the height of the recession in 2008-2009, the Food Bank of Central New York saw a 12 percent increase in the number of meals requested across its 11-county service area. Those numbers stabilized, but now they are going back up -- climbing seven percent last year.   

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The food budget for individuals receiving federal food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), comes down to $29.40 a week, $4.20 a day. Members of the Religious Roundtable of Interfaith Works of Central New York are in the midst of a one-week SNAP challenge, only eating what that amount of money will buy.  

Temple Concord Rabbi Daniel Fellman says this kind of budget limits people to a carbohydrate-heavy, highly processed diet.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

With winter officially here, New York’s food pantries and soup kitchens are feeling the strain of feeding the hungry, especially after two key benefit cuts from the federal government.

The FOCUS food pantry, sponsored by six Albany area churches, is located just a block away from the state Capitol.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

Farmers aren't the only ones worrying about Congress' failure to come to an agreement on the Farm Bill. Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei says partisan politics have gotten in the way, and are hurting Congress' ability to move legislation forward.

Maffei says the Farm Bill, and the legislation connected to it, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, should be passed, though both Republicans and Democrats need to compromise on their positions.

Doug Kerr / Flickr

While the focus has been on the partial federal government shut down, another important piece of legislation, the federal farm bill, has also expired.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said this is the third time in three years he’s seen negotiations go down to the wire and beyond on farm legislation that regulates crop subsidies, milk prices, and nutrition programs.

"It’s like déjà vu all over again," Norton said in a statement.