- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - As Thanksgiving nears, more than 1.4 million New Yorkers don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis, placing a strain on charities and highlighting the need for more government intervention, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

The number of New York City residents who are estimated to live in “food insecure households” outnumbers the total population of all but seven U.S. cities, according to advocates.

“People overwhelmingly don’t want to have to choose between food and the rent or food and health care. But they have no choice,” de Blasio said. “That’s not a society that’s firing on all cylinders; that’s not us at our best.”

De Blasio, a first-term Democrat, said the hunger crisis in the city required more than just generosity from private citizens or corporations. He called for greater aid from Washington and Albany and said that an increase of the minimum wage to $15 would lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty.

“One job, two jobs, even three jobs at the minimum wage we have, and with the cost of living in this city, it’s not enough,” the mayor said. “People still have to make those extraordinarily tough choices between the basics. And that’s why we need to make a series of changes.”

De Blasio visited the St. John’s Bread & Life pantry in Bedford-Stuyvesant to call attention to the issue - and, of course, to participate in a traditional Thanksgiving week photo-op. He made small talk with diners, including one who warned him that “judgment day” was coming. He donned an apron and packed five orders of groceries from the pantry.

Two groups used the Thanksgiving holiday to issue sobering new numbers on hunger. One, the Food Bank for New York City, estimated that 339,000 children - nearly one in five - rely on soup kitchens and pantries.

Meanwhile, 450,000 city residents live in households that included at least one person working but were still unable to afford enough food, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

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