Food Assistance

Accessing Immediate Food Assistance: 
  • Residents in NYC can get three free meals per day at more 430 sites across the five boroughs amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Families and children can pick up meals between 7:30AM – 11:30AM, and adults can pick up between 11:30AM - 1:30PM.
  • To find a school in your area distributing food, call 311, check NYC.gov, or text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877. 
  • More information is available here
  • A list of food pantries is available here.
 
More Information on Federal Programs to Help New Yorkers: 
 
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • To see whether you are eligible for SNAP in New York State or to enroll, please visit this site. NYS is temporarily waiving at-home interview requirements for SNAP applicants, provided that all other application materials and information have been provided and are valid.
  • NYS is also extending SNAP certification periods for households scheduled to expire in March, April, and May for six months until September, October, and November 2020 respectively, so recipients whose benefits were set to expire during that time do not need to apply for renewal for six more months.
  • NYS made emergency allotments to current SNAP households for the months of March, April, and May. NYS is giving the maximum allotment per household to those that do not already receive the maximum allotment for those months.
    • The emergency allotments are automatic, so households did not need to apply. Households that already receive the maximum household allotment did not receive additional funding. 
    • NYS will need to apply for a waiver from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to extend the emergency allotments past May. More information is available here
  • Through New York’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Online Purchasing Pilot, participants can use their EBT cards to purchase groceries online at Amazon, Walmart, and ShopRite. More information is available here.
  • NYS was approved in early May for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to assist families that lost access to meals due to school closures.
    • Households with children who are certified to receive free or reduced-price school meals, or who attend schools that offer free school meals to all students, are eligible. Households do not have to already be enrolled in SNAP to qualify.
    • Through P-EBT, eligible households will receive EBT cards with the value of school breakfast and lunch meals for the days that schools are closed, which will give families the means and flexibility to ensure their children are fed.
    • SNAP households with children do not need to apply; they will be automatically enrolled in this program. NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is working to identify and get benefits to additional eligible children. More information is available here.
 
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • To see if you are eligible or to enroll, please visit this site.
  • Many NYS WIC offices are providing services by phone for appointments and interviews. Additionally, New York State has waived the in-person pickup requirement for WIC food instruments (i.e. WIC checks, vouchers, and electronic benefit transfer cards). More information is available here.
 
Child Nutrition Programs
  • You can apply for school meals any time during the school year by applying directly to your school or district. Contact your school or district directly to obtain and submit a school meal application. If you receive SNAP or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, all of your children who attend school automatically qualify for free school meals.
  • Participants currently operating the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program or the Summer Food Service Program can apply for several waivers established by the United States Department of Agriculture to allow for safe access to nutritious meals. More information on available waivers and how to apply is available here.
  • New York State’s Child Nutrition Program Administration is working with Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to ensure that households with children eligible for school meals receive assistance through the SNAP P-EBT program (see above).
 
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
  • New York State’s Office of General Services is distributing TEFAP-purchased food to eight different Community Response Partners so that they can deliver the food to households most in need of food assistance across New York. 
  • Information on TEFAP food banks near you is available here.
 
CARES Act Resources for Seniors and People with Disabilities
  • The CARES Act appropriated $955 million in grants for state programs that provide services and meal delivery for seniors.
  • For more information or to enroll in the NYC Home Delivered Meals Program, call Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) or visit this website
 
Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Resources for Social Service Organizations
  • Each county or city in New York that receives EFSP funding will award the grant funds via a local board to local nonprofit and government social service organizations. To see how funds were distributed among counties and cities in New York State, visit this page.
  • Currently, applications are being accepted for EFSP funding for Fiscal Year 2019, CARES Supplemental Funding, and Fiscal Year 2020. To get contact and application information for your Local Board, visit this page.
 
Federal Legislation and What it Means for New York
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act together provided $25 billion for food access, including:
  • $15.8 billion to fund food assistance through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • $500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition Programs
  • $450 million for food banks through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
  • $100 million for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)
  • $955 million in grants for programs that assist seniors and people with disabilities with services including food access services (ACL/HCBS/OAA)
  • $200 million for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)
How This Helps New York State:
  • SNAP: SNAP is participation-based, so the amount of SNAP funding New York State receives depends on the number of New Yorkers enrolled to receive SNAP benefits.
  • WIC: WIC is participation-based, so the amount of WIC funding New York State receives depends on the number of New Yorkers enrolled to receive WIC benefits.
  • Child Nutrition Programs: The CARES Act distributed $8.8 billion to Child Nutrition Programs, which directly reimburse program participants (i.e. schools, after-school programs, summer camps, childcare centers, etc., depending on the specific program). Funding for NYS is dependent on the number of reimbursement requests from participant organizations.
  • TEFAP: Through TEFAP, food and funding is distributed to states by USDA based on the number of unemployed people and the number of people with incomes below the poverty level in each state.
  • Food Assistance for Seniors: NYS received $11.7 million through the CARES Act grant formula for its Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) under Title III-B of the Older Americans Act (OAA) to assist older adults with tasks including cooking, grocery shopping, and transportation to essential services such as grocery stores. NYS also received $28.1 million for home-delivered meal programs for older adults, allowing it to expand “drive-through” or “grab-and-go” meals for older adults.
  • EFSP: The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) National Board is giving New York State $12.8 million in funding (including $4.7 million for New York City) to be dispersed among its cities and counties. Funding was calculated based on a formula using the most recent national population, unemployment, and poverty data.