Although millions of pounds of food leave Foodlink’s facility each month, our work cannot match the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in ensuring our community has enough access to healthy food.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in massive job losses and school closures — both of which made it tougher for families to put food on the table. Government relief came early with the approval of several key programs, namely:
- The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has connected food banks with farmers and food distributors and has become a key source of product at drive-through food distributions.
- The Pandemic EBT program provided financial assistance for families of children who normally would receive free or reduced price lunch at school.
- School meal waivers were relaxed by the USDA, making it possible for Foodlink’s Community Kitchen and other feeding programs to provide easier and safer access to healthy meals for students affected by school closures.
These programs, and several others, have collectively help millions of families stay out of poverty during a difficult year. SNAP, however, has always been a top priority for anti-hunger advocates. The “Families First” Act last March gave states the ability to boost SNAP benefits to the maximum amount with Emergency Allotment (EA) benefits providing key relief for millions of households. This change, however, did not provide relief to the poorest residents who were already receiving the maximum amount –about 35-40% of SNAP recipients. This was the case for more than 6 months, as future relief efforts — such as the HEROES Act — stalled in Congress.
In December, one of the top measures that anti-hunger advocates fought for — a 15% boost in SNAP benefits for ALL recipients — was finally approved and passed by Congress (along with several other encouraging proposals). Here’s what that means for New Yorkers, taking into account the ongoing EA benefits program, as well:
- The 15% SNAP boost took effect Jan. 1. For a family of four, the max level increased by nearly $100, from $680 to $782. Not all households qualify for the maximum amount, but all households will see the 15% increase.
- These SNAP increases will remain in place through at least June 30, 2021, according to the latest federal relief package.
- For all SNAP recipients who did not already qualify for the maximum level according to their household size, they will still receive EA supplemental benefits to bring them up to that level.
- The “EA” benefits have been approved until the federal government “rescinds the public health emergency,” according to the USDA. New York State has indicated it will continue to apply for these funds, which it is required to do on a month-by-month basis, for as long as the program is available.
The latest increase is actually the second boost in SNAP in recent months for New Yorkers. In October, SNAP benefits were increased 5% due to the recalculation of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which takes the cost of food and other considerations into account when determining the allocation of benefits.
Do you have questions about SNAP Benefits, or want to apply for SNAP? Contact your local Nutrition Outreach Education Program Coordinator for help.
A chart showing NYS’s recent increases in SNAP is provided below:
|SNAP BENEFITS ALLOCATION||Max Amount||Max Amount||Max Amount|
|Additional people||+ $146||+ $153||+ $176|