This month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an expansion of how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, works in New York: Recipients could soon be able to use the benefit at restaurants and the monthly aid per family will grow.
With the condition of federal approval, the benefit could soon be used at participating restaurants. But for those who are already providing meals to needy people, more can be done in New York.
"Seniors and people with disabilities and homeless will be able to use their SNAP dollars to go into a restaurant or have a delivery service," Hochul said earlier this month at an event announcing the program. "That will be covered. That's not covered right now."
Having restaurants participate must be approved by the federal government. But the move is meant to help more people who are homebound and struggle to put food on the table.
"Our timing isn't precise because that part isn't in our hands," Hochul said. "But today is about getting the word out and letting them know help is on the way."
Greg Morris, the president and executive director of the Isaacs Center in New York, praised the increase in SNAP support.
"This is a substantial commitment, a meaningful commitment, to those folks who have experienced food insecurity and hunger," he said.
But Morris believes more work needs to be done to aid groups that provide multiple services to needy people in addition to food delivery.
"This is a circumstance where the on-the-ground providers like us who have the interactions and the daily engagement with these particular New Yorkers," Morris said. "It really does require not just a meal to come to their door."
Human service organizations like the Isaacs Center are calling for more input on how the state can support people who receive meals at home, but also need interaction on a person to person level.
"It requires our social workers, our delivery staff, our other community team members who work for the Isaac Center to make sure that those folks are healthy," Morris said.
Hochul also announced the launch of a $25 million program design to aid restaurants struggling due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.