What to Know
- More than $880 million in additional food assistance will go to help New Yorkers with children who previously received free and reduced-price meals at school, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance announced Tuesday
- Officials say this move will benefit roughly 2.1 million children throughout the state
- More information is available at: www.otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19
More than $880 million in additional food assistance will go to help New Yorkers with children who previously received free and reduced-price meals at school, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance announced Tuesday. Officials say this move will benefit roughly 2.1 million children throughout the state.
Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s direction, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was requested to provide food benefits to households with children who have temporarily lost access to school meals due to the school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have been closed since mid-March.
The federal Families First Act authorized states to apply for federal approval to operate Pandemic EBT programs. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program will provide eligible households with about $420 per child for the month of May.
"For many low-income families across the state, free and reduced-price school meals provided a critical stop-gap that allowed them to avoid food insecurity," Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Mike Hein said in a statement.
"This temporary program will bring them some measure of relief by ensuring that parents have additional help purchasing healthy, nutritious food for their school-aged children during these unprecedented times," Hein went on to say.
According to the state, there are about 1.3 million children in households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), receiving Temporary Assistance benefits or Medicaid. These households will automatically receive the additional assistance through their existing EBT cards.
The state is also working with the Department of Education of New York to identify an additional 800,000 children in households that are not receiving Medicaid, SNAP or Temporary Assistance, but who were receiving free and reduced-price school meals. These families will also be mailed a temporary EBT card.
"Districts across the state have worked tirelessly to get nutritious meals to students while schools are closed and this program will truly build on those efforts to provide relief to families during this stressful time," State Education Department Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said in a statement.
Additionally, about 750,000 low-income individuals and families enrolled in the SNAP program will receive the maximum allowable benefit for the month of May to help them avoid food insecurity during these trying times, officials said.
"Proper nutrition is essential for a healthy lifestyle and proper physical and emotional development in children," Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said. "For the thousands of New York families who depend on school cafeterias for daily meals, the Pandemic EBT program will provide some much needed relief."
May marks the third consecutive month all SNAP recipients in New York have received the maximum benefit. The emergency assistance -- which will be distributed later this month, after the regular benefits are issued -- will be issued to any SNAP household that did not receive the maximum allowable benefit per month, which is $194 for an individual and $646 for a family of four.
According to officials, about half of all households receiving SNAP will receive the additional benefits for May.
Like regular SNAP benefits, the Pandemic EBT benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores. New Yorkers enrolled in SNAP can also use their benefits to purchase groceries online. Statewide, SNAP recipients can use their benefits to purchase eligible food items from Amazon. Certain ShopRite stores located throughout the state are also accepting benefits online. Specific Certain Walmart stores in the state are also taking online orders. Availability is determined by ZIP code and any interested SNAP recipients should consult the retailer’s website.
Those recipients using benefits online will need a an additional payment source for non-SNAP items or fees, such as the cost of delivery. More information is available at: www.otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19.