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SNAP

March 4, 2021 - 2:23pm
posted by Press Release in SNAP, covid-19, news.

Press release:

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) today announced that all New Yorkers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive the maximum allowable level of food benefits for March.

Roughly half of all households participating in SNAP will receive the supplemental allotment later this month, which will result in an infusion of roughly $100 million into the state’s economy.

"Supplemental SNAP benefits have provided crucial support for families and individuals around New York State as they struggle through the global pandemic," said Mike Hein, commissioner of OTDA, which administers SNAP in New York State.

"This infusion of federal dollars will help New Yorkers avoid food insecurity and bring welcome business to local retailers as our state embarks on the road to economic recovery."

Additionally, all SNAP recipients will continue to receive a 15-percent increase to benefits for March, which will be reflected in their normal monthly allotment. With the 15-percent increase included, the maximum benefit level for an individual is $234 and $782 for a family of four.

Federal legislation adopted in December provides for this increase to continue each month through June.

The emergency assistance supplement is provided to those SNAP households that do not ordinarily receive the maximum allowable benefit per month. The additional food benefits will be distributed starting in the second week of March and continue through the end of the month. 

As with the prior months, the payments will be delivered directly to recipients’ existing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) account and can be accessed with their existing EBT card. Like regular SNAP benefits, the supplemental benefits can be used to purchase food at authorized retail food stores. Any unused SNAP benefits will be automatically carried over to the following month.

Under the direction of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last spring, OTDA submitted a plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide emergency supplemental payments to any SNAP household getting less than the maximum monthly benefit. Since that time, more than $1.2 billion in additional benefits have been distributed, bringing much needed federal dollars to local retailers throughout the state.

Struggling New Yorkers continue to rely heavily on SNAP as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As of December 2020, there were more than 2.7 million SNAP recipients throughout the state, a 6.7-percent increase from the same month in 2019.

A recent federal study quantifying the impact of SNAP on the U.S. economy found that every dollar invested in food benefits can generate up to $1.54 in economic activity. The study also found that an additional $1 billion invested in new SNAP benefits could support roughly 13,560 jobs nationwide.

For more information on the emergency supplemental SNAP benefits, including answers to frequently asked questions, visit otda.ny.gov/SNAP-COVID-19. New Yorkers can check their eligibility for SNAP and apply online by visiting mybenefits.ny.gov.

January 22, 2021 - 12:32pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, SNAP, hunger, covid-19, news.

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced several efforts today to expand nutrition assistance to hard-hit families across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In support of President Biden’s call to action on hunger and with authorities provided by Congress, USDA is increasing the Pandemic-EBT benefit by approximately 15 percent, providing more money for low-income families and millions of children missing meals due to school closures.

Separately, in response to this national emergency, USDA is looking at ways to increase Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to all participants, especially lowest-income households and those struggling to afford a healthy diet for their families.

As a part of the end of year COVID-19 relief package, Congress bolstered food assistance programs, including boosting monthly SNAP benefits by 15 percent and provided new funding for food banks and school and childcare meals.

USDA is committed to implementing these changes, but the measures alone will not solve the food hardship so many Americans are experiencing. Today, some 29 million adults and as many as 12 million children live in households struggling to afford food. More than 1 in 5 Black and Latino adults and many more children report food insecurity. These numbers continue to worsen each month.

USDA is committed to working with states and supporting governors, school districts, food banks and other key partners to deploy food assistance to struggling families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in the months ahead. The efforts announced today are detailed below.

P-EBT Benefit Increase

Upon taking office, the Biden administration took immediate action to deploy the emergency resources and new flexibilities Congress has provided. Established under Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March, the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) connects low-income families with kids with food dollars equivalent to the value of the meals missed due to COVID-related school and childcare closures.

To date, the program has capped P-EBT benefit amounts at $5.86 per child per school day and many households have had trouble claiming benefits. USDA will increase the current daily benefit amount by approximately 15 percent to tackle the serious problem of child food insecurity during this school year when need is greatest.

“As soon as the President took office, he called for immediate action on the hunger crisis gripping vulnerable families and children," said Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.

"The announcement today provides more food dollars directly to food insecure kids living in low-income households who are missing critical meals due to school closures."

SNAP Emergency Allotments to States

Separately, USDA will begin working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review its authority to allow states to provide extra SNAP benefits through Emergency Allotments to the lowest-income households.

Last spring, Congress passed emergency increases to SNAP benefits to help address food insecurity during the pandemic. But those benefit increases have not been made available to the lowest-income households who make up 37 percent of SNAP households. Increasing SNAP benefits will not only help families most in need, but it is also a critical and effective form of economic stimulus.

recent USDA study found that in a slow economy “$1 billion in new SNAP benefits would lead to an increase of $1.54 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—54 above and beyond the new benefits.”

Moreover, SNAP benefits reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009 and had a significant effect on reducing child poverty.

Revising the Thrifty Food Plan Per 2018 Farm Bill

Finally, some 43 million Americans count on SNAP to help put food on the table. Currently, however, USDA's Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for determining SNAP benefits, is out of date with the economic realities most struggling households face when trying to buy and prepare healthy food. As a result, the benefits may fall short of what a healthy, adequate diet costs for many households today, especially in high cost of living areas.

Therefore, as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA will begin the process of revising the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the cost of a healthy basic diet today. USDA believes federal nutrition programs and benefits should support a basic healthy diet.

Call for More Congressional Action

While these actions will help address food insecurity for tens of millions of households nationwide, more is needed to solve the hunger crisis in America. As part of his American Rescue Plan proposal, President Biden is calling on Congress to:

  • Extend the 15 percent SNAP benefit increase;
  • Invest another $3 billion through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to help vulnerable mothers and kids get the food they need;
  • Look for creative ways to support restaurants as a critical link in the food supply chain to help feed families in need;
  • Provide U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance funding.
June 30, 2020 - 2:06pm

Press release:

Noting that the clock is ticking, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on the Trump Administration to extend the nation’s public health emergency declaration first issued this past winter to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schumer warned that the declaration will expire on July 25th unless the feds soon act, and reminded that executive branch delay on the emergency declaration this past winter set us back in the COVID fight.

Schumer said Health and Human Services (HHS) should announce an extension ASAP and give locals across New York the reassurances they need to keep the COVID fight going. Schumer cautioned, that without action, New York stands to lose collective billions in state and local healthcare funds, FEMA disaster dollars and even tele-health services, like those for Hospice and everyday healthcare.

“If we have learned anything from COVID-19 it is that a ‘stitch in time saves nine,’ and the more we can do to be proactive, the better off the public will be,” Schumer said. “This past winter there was delay and dismissal towards those urging HHS to officially declare a public health emergency as it relates to the coronavirus.

"Well, we cannot -- and we must not -- have that kind of inaction and uncertainly now, especially with what we know and with the sustaining needs of New York. We need the public health emergency extended ASAP to keep healthcare dollars and FEMA funds flowing to this state, and we need the declaration to keep our local health departments fully supported. The clock is ticking as July dawns, so we need this action now.”

Aside from the very clear public health consequences, Schumer said New York would lose billions of dollars collectively if the Trump administration fails to extend the public health emergency declaration. Just last week, more than $300,000,000 in federal healthcare dollars were dispersed across New York State.

Those funds are part of a combined $2.5 billion in the pipeline and already secured for New York as part of the Families First Coronavirus stimulus package, which are tethered to the emergency declaration.

In addition, as of June 1, FEMA had obligated over $1.1 billion to New York under the state’s COVID Major Disaster Declaration and the agency is looking to the public health emergency declaration to define how much longer it will continue reimbursing New York, and in particular New York City, for related expenses. Should the public health emergency end, FEMA has indicated that the funds flowing from the Disaster Relief Fund will also stop.

“New York is by no means out of the woods with the coronavirus, especially given the upticks we are seeing in other states and the risk those upticks pose here when you take travel into account,” Schumer added. “Extending this declaration will keep New York positioned to both respond and to keep fighting.”

In addition, Schumer also detailed the CDC’s Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund, which without an emergency extension would be locked up like it was before the first declaration was made at the beginning of the year. The account’s funds are being used to support local health departments and increased staffing across the city and on Long Island.

Schumer explained that these dollars could also be used by the CDC for, amongst other things:

  • Epidemiological activities, such as contact tracing and monitoring of cases;
  • Additional or enhanced screenings, like at airports;
  • Support for state and local health departments;
  • Public awareness campaigns;
  • Increased staffing.

Schumer also explained how the emergency declaration has allowed vulnerable and high-risk patients to avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus at hospitals and health centers by expanding federal eligibility to receive routine care through telehealth and digital care.

Federal support and coverage for this type of medical care has saved countless lives because clinicians can use tele-health to fulfill many face-to-face visit requirements to see patients, says Schumer, adding that this has been one of the main requests of in inpatient rehabilitation facilities, hospice and home health professionals who are now using apps with audio and video capabilities to have patients visit with their doctors or practitioners.

Finally, Schumer listed other necessities that would cease unless the public health emergency is extended:

  • Nutrition assistance for kids who would normally receive free or reduced lunch in school would cease;
  • Access to SNAP would be restricted;
  • Seniors who rely on Meals on Wheels would see their access to food restricted;
  • A massive restriction on assistance hospitals and doctors rely on to keep their doors open during the crisis;
  • Reduced access for out of work individuals to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance;
  • Reduced access to prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare.
April 22, 2020 - 12:35pm

From USDA:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced emergency benefit increases have reached $2 billion per month for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households across all 50 states and three territories to increase food security during the coronavirus national emergency.

These emergency benefits represent a 40-percent increase in overall monthly SNAP benefits, significantly increasing food purchasing power for American families. 

“These are unprecedented times for American families who are facing joblessness and hunger," Secretary Perdue said. "USDA is providing a 40-percent increase in SNAP benefits to ensure that low-income individuals have enough food to feed themselves and their families during this national emergency."

Background:

Currently, a household with two adults, three children, and no income can receive the maximum benefit of $768. However, due to reportable income and other factors, the average five-person household receives significantly less, $528.

These emergency benefits would provide the average five-person household an additional $240 monthly in food purchasing power, bringing the average household up to the same benefit level as households already receiving the maximum. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law by President Trump, provided for the issuance of emergency allotments in response to COVID-19. Across the United States, emergency allotments total nearly $2 billion per month, which is in addition to approximately $4.5 billion in benefits already provided to SNAP households each month. 

All SNAP households that are eligible to receive less than the maximum benefit will receive the emergency allotment supplement to bring them up to the maximum. By law, SNAP households are not permitted to receive more than the maximum allotment.

SNAP emergency allotments allow states to raise benefits to the maximum amount for the household’s size for up to two months, and USDA is providing additional guidance today to states that want to further extend these emergency allotments month by month as prescribed by the law.

Hawaii -- approved last Friday -- was the final state agency authorized to provide the emergency allotments, which are now authorized in all 50 states, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

States could request to provide an emergency allotment for current SNAP households beginning in March. USDA is continuing to work closely with states so that supplements are provided in subsequent months as this public health emergency warrants, as outlined in FFCRA. 

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include:

  • Providing more than 227 million pounds of food – valued at $243 million through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), with another $850 million available from the FFCRA and Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act.
  • Launching Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) to provide the value of school breakfast and lunch to families eligible for free and reduce-price lunch;
  • Issuing Disaster Household Distributions, food targeted to meet specific needs when traditional channels of food are unavailable, to 16 States and territories, and 29 tribes;
  • Providing more than one million meals a week to rural children through public-private partnership Meals to You;
  • Allowing states to serve free meals to children in all areas across more than 35,000 feeding sites nation-wide;
  • Maximizing flexibilities, such as parent-pickup and meal times requirements, for the free meals provided through schools and other providers; 
  • Increasing access to online purchasing by expanding the online purchasing pilot to cover half of all SNAP households;
  • Debuting “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed; and
  • Providing administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing and for State to more quickly process new applications.
These actions and more are part of USDA’s focus on service during the COVID-19 outbreak. For additional information on the many actions FNS has taken to respond to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus or follow us @USDANutrition.

FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

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