NY will allow SNAP recipients to use program to buy meals from restaurants

Posted 4 October 2021 at 3:59 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation (S.64/A.1524) establishing a statewide Restaurant Meals Program as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The legislation mandates the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to apply for USDA approval to authorize the program, which would allow homeless, elderly and disabled SNAP recipients to use their benefits for prepared or hot food from participating restaurants.

The Governor also announced the launch of the $25 million Restaurant Resiliency Program to provide relief to the restaurant industry, which continues to face severe challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic. The program, proposed by the legislature, will build on the successful Nourish New York initiative. It will provide funding to New York’s network of food banks and emergency food providers to purchase prepared meals from New York restaurants and deliver them to families in need.

“The vital actions we’re taking—establishing two restaurant programs to help the most vulnerable New Yorkers feed themselves and help restaurants recover from this terrible pandemic—will work in tandem to put food on the table in homes across the state,” Hochul said. “This pandemic continues to impact the wallets and homes of a vast number of New Yorkers, and we’re taking any and all actions to help them support themselves and their loved ones.”

The statewide Restaurant Meals Program, once approved by USDA, would allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits for prepared or hot food from participating restaurants and delis at reduced prices.

Prior to the signing of this legislation, SNAP recipients in New York State could not use their benefits to purchase prepared goods. This prevented many populations that do not have access to cooking or food preparation on their own from using SNAP benefits. This primarily affects the homeless, disabled and elderly populations.

The Restaurant Resiliency Program will award funding, which was passed as part of the 2021-22 New York State Budget, from the New York State Department of Health to New York’s network of ten food banks across the State.

Emergency food providers will work directly with restaurants who are deemed eligible for the program by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. They will need to show capacity to create meals aligning with MyPlate.gov standards, be up to date with licensing requirements, and have passed all health inspections. Participating restaurants are encouraged to use New York ingredients where possible.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The Nourish New York program has been a resounding success in its ability to address the needs of families who have found themselves in need of food assistance during the pandemic and to provide relief to our farmers who are struggling with the loss of key markets. By using the Nourish New York as a model to now help our restaurants, we will be able to reach even more New Yorkers and provide a steady customer base for our restaurants to help them get through these continued challenging times.”