Long Island Cares, Inc. – The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank supports the “For the People Act” (H.R.1) currently under consideration in our Senate. This comprehensive legislation addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for the three branches of our democratic republic. Legislation to restore faith in our participatory democracy is necessary and vital given the sobering events of January 6th.
H.R. 1 also requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to perform congressional redistricting. Furthermore, it contains provisions relating to sharing intelligence information with state election officials, supporting states in securing their election systems, developing a national strategy to protect democratic institutions, and improving election cybersecurity. By working to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box and implementing various anti-corruption measures, H.R. 1 aims to make it easier for Americans to vote and for government to accurately tabulate election results.
In our role as the regional food bank for Long Island, we advocate on behalf of the people we serve and 350+ agencies we regularly support. Nearly 90,000 Long Island households are currently receiving SNAP benefits. Many of these people are currently utilizing our services or those of our dedicated member agencies. In fact, some of our agencies help enroll low-income food insecure Long Islanders in SNAP.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the number of food insecure Long Islanders ballooned from 259,000 in March 2020 to more than 480,000 today. In addition to SNAP, many of these people require other forms of governmental assistance. The immense need brought on by COVID-19 has reinforced the prominent role government plays in our daily lives. In fact, federal commodities are our largest single source of food. We make sure to share this with our agencies and clients.
People coming to Long Island Cares and our member network often feel powerless and without a voice. As a food bank founded by the famous singer and activist, Harry Chapin, we remind the Long Islanders we serve that they have a voice in our representative democracy. It is well documented that hunger and food insecurity disproportionately impacts people of color, veterans, seniors, and the disabled. Government determines the funding levels for safety-net programs, such as SNAP and Unemployment Insurance, and also partners with the nation’s network of food banks to meet the need when governmental assistance is simply not enough. Given these facts, it is imperative the nation’s hungry have the opportunity to weigh-in on all current and future policy debates which heavily factor into quality of life concerns.
Lastly, this timely legislation makes it easier for people facing health, unemployment, and transportation issues to vote during a pandemic. As a result of COVID-19, we revised our distribution model to expand home and community delivery services while still maintaining social distance. Just as we revised our practices to increase food access, we see H.R. 1 as our democracy revising its practices to ensure voting
access to disproportionately impacted populations.
Consequently, Long Island Cares, Inc.—The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank is proud to support the “For the People Act” which makes it easier for people to vote during a time in our nation’s history when far too many Americans feel unsafe in public and may not even have the money for groceries let alone the gas needed to drive to their assigned polling location.
Paule T. Pachter, A.C.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer
Michael W. Haynes
Chief Government Affairs Officer