Food Bank highlights relief cuts with Lost Meals effort

NEW YORK: The Food Bank for New York City has launched what it is calling an "emergency" guerrilla marketing and digital media effort called Lost Meals.

NEW YORK: The Food Bank for New York City has launched what it is calling an “emergency” guerrilla marketing and digital media effort called Lost Meals.

The campaign's goal is to stop cuts to federal food-stamp programs that it says will disproportionately affect New York City.

The group hopes to mobilize tens of thousands of New Yorkers to call on Congress to not go forward with the cuts. The outreach initiative includes a website with auto-generated letters to members of Congress, as well as guerilla marketing and postcards. It also includes the Food Stamp Challenge, which encourages elected officials to live on $1.50 per meal for up to a week.

New York City mayoral candidates Anthony Weiner and John Liu are taking part in the challenge.

Food Bank PR AOR BerlinRosen is working on traditional media outreach for the effort, while Praytell Strategy is assisting with digital efforts on a pro bono basis.

Andy Pray, the firm's lead, said that after working for brands such as Mountain Dew and Sony at Ruder Finn, he was excited to switch gears to a project that contributes to the greater social good.

The Food Bank is running the campaign in response to the US Senate passing a version of the Farm Bill that would cut more than $4.1 billion from the food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. New Yorkers represent 40% of those nationally who would have their benefits cut as a result of the bill. A proposed House bill would cut $20 billion from the program.

Food Bank President and CEO Margarette Purvis said she has a problem with lawmakers claiming the cuts are a way to fill loopholes in the program.                                                    

“It's not quite a loophole when your family falls through it; it's an abyss,” she said. “Children are the No. 1 group hurt by these cuts, and they can't just go out and get jobs, they're babies.”

Without the assistance of hunger-relief organizations, New Yorkers would miss more than 200 million meals per year. Should the House bill pass, city residents would face a loss of 200 million more meals, according to the Food Bank.

At current benefit levels and without additional cuts, food-stamp recipients receive an average of $1.50 per meal. About 1.4 million New York City residents, many of them already on food stamps, still need emergency food supplies for basic nutrition, the group said.

BerlinRosen deferred comment on its work to its client.

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