Food Stamp Direct Service & Outreach
With approximately 1.4 million people relying on soup kitchens and food pantries in our city, access to the federal Food Stamp program (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) is an essential issue for low-income New Yorkers who struggle to afford food. As the premiere food stamp outreach and enrollment organization throughout the five boroughs, the Food Bank For New York City's Food Stamp Direct Service & Outreach program works to educate and connect directly with low-income New Yorkers to ensure access to this key piece of the hunger safety net.
Food Stamp Pre-Screening
Once outreach has identified in-need populations, the Food Bank conducts pre-screenings with low-income New Yorkers to assess their eligibility and move them toward participation in the Food Stamp program. In addition to assessing the eligibility of low-income households, these one-on-one meetings provide New Yorkers with access to trained professionals who provide detailed information and answer questions regarding food stamps. Our food stamp information call center (212.894.8060) is available throughout the work week, providing regular access to food stamp specialists who can conduct pre-screenings and answer questions. In addition, the Food Bank conducts follow up calls for individuals who expressed an interest in food stamps while participating in our Free Income Tax Services Program.
Electronic Application Assistance
The Food Bank also provides electronic application assistance through 21 sites in all five boroughs and actively works to recruit additional sites from our citywide network of member programs and other community-based organizations. Through this effort, Food Bank–trained staff work directly with New Yorkers, taking them through the complete application process within a comfortable, community setting. To date, this program has helped New Yorkers submit close to 7,000 applications with an over 80 percent application approval rate. The success of this community-based initiative has recently led to further partnerships with the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), NYC Department for the Aging and the Medicare Rights Center.
Food Stamp Recertification
Recertification is the application process that all food stamp clients must complete in order to determine if they remain eligible for ongoing assistance. The Human Resources Administration (HRA) is now offering Food Stamp clients the opportunity to complete their recertification at community-based organizations. In order to ensure that this process is as accurate and efficient as possible, HRA has partnered with the Food Bank For New York City in a pilot program to roll-out recertification to local communities. Currently we can assist food stamp clients with electronic recertification at two locations, at ERDA in Queens and the Community Kitchen & Food Pantry.
In order to ensure that full benefits are received, the Food Bank additionally helps to mediate problems that arise during the application process at the city's Human Resources Administration (HRA).
As part of our efforts to connect New Yorkers to food stamp benefits, the Food Stamp Direct Service & Outreach program reaches out to the community through events and through media campaigns. This outreach encourages potentially eligible New Yorkers to apply to the Food Stamp program and fosters a positive perception of food stamps. The Food Bank's food stamp specialists attend dozens of citywide outreach events throughout the year, answering questions and encouraging thousands of New Yorkers to apply for food stamps.
If you would like more information on the Food Bank's direct services and outreach programs, please contact Andrea Lutz, manager of Benefits Access. For food stamp prescreenings and other benefits information, please call the Food Bank's Benefits Helpline at (212) 894-8060.