Volunteer Profile: Jessica Acero
May 26, 2021 | by Ann Pedtke |
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Food Assistance |
Welcome to The Core, Food Bank For New York City’s new blog! We created this space to dive a little deeper into the subjects, stories, and stakeholders that power our mission. You may be familiar with Food Bank as the city's largest hunger relief organization, but our work actually spans a great deal more. So, The Core will give you insight into how we operate, who we serve, and what kinds of impact we make across all five boroughs of the greatest city in the world. But don’t worry, we won’t just be talking about New York! Anyone and everyone with a hunger for food justice, equity, and advocacy will find a home here where they can learn new ideas and read some fantastic stories. To that end, we’ll have content covering a variety of subjects, including: Activism, Nutrition + Health, Financial Empowerment, and Stories from the Field. So, let’s meet these categories and figure out how we use them here at Food Bank and what they’ll mean to you. Activism Activism is at the heart of everything we do. To fight hunger is to actively fight poverty, which includes standing up for and supporting low-income New Yorkers and their families. This means not only getting them the resources they need to survive and thrive, but also advocating for policies that serve their best interests. So, we’ll be tagging stories that deal with both activism and advocacy in the hunger space. We’ll share information about the fights we’re taking on and the ones waging at the local, state, and federal levels. To get involved with our own efforts, join Food Bank’s action team. Nutrition + Health Another important facet of our work is nutrition, specifically as it relates to education, health and equity. Our nutrition program focuses on teaching folks how to establish and maintain healthy habits on a limited budget, which helps to fight hunger while addressing some of poverty’s key contributing factors – in both the short and long term. So, we’ll be giving you your fill of yummy recipes, nutrition tips, and resources exploring the relationships between food, health, culture, and poverty. Food Assistance In this category, we’ll explore not only the topic of food assistance, but also SNAP benefits and enrollment as well as insights into the various factors that impact emergency food providers across the city. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to find food whenever they need it. To do that, we’ve created an array of tools New Yorkers can use to source free meals and connect with local pantries and soup kitchens for immediate food assistance. If you’re looking for food assistance now, check out our virtual food locator. Financial Empowerment Financial empowerment refers to the sense of security that comes from being in control of one’s finances. Have you ever been down to your last 20 bucks, with more month to go before your next check? Not a great feeling. Well, for many low-income New Yorkers, living in a city as expensive as ours makes that feeling a constant companion. To help the New Yorkers we serve feel more financially empowered, we offer an array of financial resources, from free tax assistance for the working poor to SNAP enrollment and community-based financial coaching. We designed these tools because the truth is, fighting hunger takes more than food. If there’s a change in tax policy that could impact New Yorkers or if we’re leading a free (virtual) workshop on financial management, we’ll make sure to cover it here. We’ll also provide tips anyone can use to become a better budgeter! Research The hunger space is a dynamic one, so it’s important to stay on top of all the latest research to ensure that our messaging is current to our cause and relevant to our communities. Food Bank’s proprietary research has long been industry-leading, but we also rely on reports from other prominent institutions to inform the work we do. To keep you up-to-date, we’ll be sharing all of our latest research findings on this blog. Stories from the Field Here, we’ll feature photographs, interviews, and videos from the field. We work with over 1,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and schools across the city, and our partners on the ground are the ones who keep this whole operation running. And trust us – they've got plenty of stories to tell! We’ll also share stories from those who experience hunger firsthand so that you can better understand what food insecurity actually looks like. To make sure you never miss a single anecdote, hit subscribe to get fresh updates on The Core as soon as they arrive.
Financial Empowerment |
Food Bank For New York City’s Tax Assistance Program provides low-income New Yorkers with free tax preparation services, helping them get the refunds and credits to which they are entitled. If you are a low-income filer, you might be entitled to various tax credits and deductions for which other taxpayers don't qualify. With the tax deadline now set for May 17, Food Bank offers some tips for New Yorkers who have yet to file their taxes this year. Filing Your Taxes Can Unlock a TON of Benefits Food Bank’s free tax services can improve low-income families’ finances. Filers can avoid retail tax preparation fees, and save an additional $450. Plus, filing with Food Bank can connect eligible tax clients to SNAP, financial coaching, banking services, and other benefits. You can use Food Bank’s Virtual Tax Service to file your taxes safely and easily from home using your smart phone, tablet or computer. Don’t Underestimate the Earned Income Tax Credit The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the most effective anti-poverty tools for working-age households. Not only can it provide low-income workers and families with a much-needed tax break, but it can also bring them additional income. In 2018, the EITC and child tax credit lifted 8.9 million people out of poverty. If you file your taxes with Food Bank, your family could get an EITC worth up to $8,991. You May Qualify for Special Deductions You might also be entitled to various credits and deductions for which other taxpayers do not qualify, including child tax credits, tax credits for the elderly or disabled, and credits and deductions for making IRA and retirement plan contributions. Be sure to ask your tax preparer if you qualify. Your Tax Refund Will Likely Be More Than Your Stimulus If you received any stimulus checks in 2020, the IRS has stated that it is not taxable, which means it will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 federal income tax return. If you did NOT receive your stimulus checks in 2020, the best way to receive them is by filing your taxes. The average tax refund in 2020 was $1,900, compared to the COVID Response Stimulus Check (Economic Impact Payment (EIP) of $1,200, which means more money in your pockets for bills, food, and other needs. The American Rescue Plan Has Unlocked New Tax Breaks If you collected unemployment insurance benefits last year, you may qualify for a new tax break from the American Rescue Plan Act. Under the newly signed COVID relief bill, the IRS will waive the federal tax on up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits that an individual received in 2020. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act expanded the Child Tax Credit and Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit by making them both "fully refundable," which means even families earning too little to owe taxes can still receive the full credit ($3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6-17). Who qualifies: Single heads of household up to an adjusted gross income of $112,500 or joint filers up to an adjusted gross income of $150,000 qualify for the full benefit. For nearly 20 years, Food Bank has prepared more than 775,000 tax returns, and secured $1.3 billion in tax refunds for low-income New Yorkers. Food Bank’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is one of the nation’s leading Tax Time Allies, a financial empowerment campaign founded by Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation (IFFF) which works with nonprofits across the country to empower taxpayers to take control of their finances and save more of their hard-earned money. To learn more, visit foodbanknyc.org/taxhelp!
Volunteer Profile: Simone Jones Simone Jones serves at Food Bank's Community Kitchen & Pantry in Harlem as part of the Serve The Moment Service Corps in partnership with Repair the World. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "As a native New Yorker, I grew up seeing the tragic impacts of food insecurity in our city. Food Bank’s mission is important to me because food insecurity is unjust, and all New Yorkers deserve consistent access to nutritious food." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "On my first day of volunteering, Food Bank's pantry team was so welcoming. They taught me exactly what goes into each pantry bag and why. I felt like a part of the team from Day One!" Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "Mac and Cheese is a special dish for me and my family. We make it from scratch using my grandmother's recipe!" Who inspires you to serve? "Volunteering has always been a huge part of my life. After my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, I promised myself that I would continue to serve my community at home. The communities that I've created both abroad and at home in NYC inspire me to serve."