One in five of New York children without enough to eat: report

NEW YORK - More than 20 per cent of children in New York City live in homes with not enough to eat, up 10 per cent over the last four years, a report said Tuesday.

The annual report by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger is the latest evidence pointing to soaring levels of inequality between the city's super rich billionaires and everyone else.

The coalition blamed the rise on last year's devastating Hurricane Sandy, from which many people are still homeless, crippling budget cuts and the still weak US economy.

Overall one in six New Yorkers or 1.3 to 1.4 million people lived in homes without enough food between 2010 and 2012, and nearly half a million children - up 10 per cent from 2006-2008.

Joel Berg, executive director of the Coalition, said that further budget cuts meant that worse was to come.

"While the wealthy have better gourmet food than ever, one in six of our neighbours is struggling against hunger," he said.

"The recent federal food stamps cuts will make all of this much worse. A city divided against itself cannot stand. We must rise together."

Food pantries and soup kitchens saw a 10 per cent increase in demand in 2013 yet 57 per cent suffered from cuts in government and private spending, the report said.

Nearly half said they lacked sufficient resources to meet growing demand and that they were forced to turn people away, reduce handouts or limit hours of operation.

The survey criticised the growing disparity in wealth between New York's super rich and everyone else.

"Middle-class income, adjusted for inflation, is lower than a decade ago. Poverty, hunger and homelessness have soared. Nearly half the population is poor or near poor," the report said.

For the 1.8 million New Yorkers who rely on federal food assistance, cuts mean that as of November a family of three lost US$29 (S$36) a month or the equivalent of around 20 meals.

One in five or 1.7 million New Yorkers live below the federal poverty line of just $19,090 a year for a family of three.