Thursday, December 18, 2008

Affordable Food and Affordable Food Markets

According to City Room. more and more people are looking to avail themselves of food aid in this collapsing economy: "Almost half of New Yorkers had difficulties affording food for themselves or their families in 2008, up sharply from 38 percent figure reported earlier this year, according to a survey released by the Food Bank for New York City this week...During that period, demand for food aid has risen more than 40 percent in areas with the weakest economies and has risen 20 percent in areas of the country with the healthiest economies, leaders of nonprofit food-distribution organizations say."

With the rise in food prices, and declining supplies, the average New York family is struggling to afford feeding itself: "The portion of Americans on food stamps will soon exceed 9 percent, up sharply from its level in recent years. As recently as 2001, only about 6 percent of Americans received food stamps." So, we should be doing everything within our power to make food more affordable; and reducing costs for New York supermarkets-along with ways to incentivize new supermarkets in low income areas-needs to be front and center in this effort.

It is within this context, that the budget measures recommended by Governor Paterson-expanding the bottle bill, and taxing soda-need to be understood; both, in their own ways, increase the cost of groceries to the state's consumers. The bottle bill is an added regulatory burden that raises expenses while simultaneously reducing selling space; and the soda tax diverts disposable income from hard pressed consumers.

In this regard, we stand with Conservative Party head Mike Long, who told Daily Politics: "Spending must be cut, every bit of waste must be eliminated, every program that can be consolidated should be, every available option to reduce the tax burden must be made before any tax is raised.”

We certainly don't think that Paterson has gone far enough in this more sensible direction; and Speaker Silver is right in this matter: "Most of all, we will work to ensure that the burden of addressing this crisis – both in terms of cuts and increases in taxes and fees – does not fall disproportionately onto the backs of New York’s working families."