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Advocates for the Poor Say More People Using Pantries

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – Advocates for the poor urged state lawmakers Monday to spare food pantries and homeless shelters from budget cuts.

They released a survey showing a 12 percent rise statewide in the number of people using emergency food programs. Sheila McCarthy of Hunger Action Network said there was a 28 percent increase in the number of upstate New Yorkers seeking food in September of this year compared to a year earlier.

"A significant number of the food programs responding to our survey statewide say more and more people coming to them cite job loss as the reason," McCarthy said.

State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said hunger programs would be a priority for receiving whatever state aid is available. But he said legislators must somehow close the state's budget deficit -- which could reach $2.7 billion by the end of the current fiscal year.