New law gives homeless, disabled and elderly access to prepared meals under the SNAP program

Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin, Office of the Governor
October 4, 2021 – Brooklyn – Governor Kathy Hochul 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. Governor Hochul signed this legislation at the Brownsville Recreation Center in Brooklyn, NY on October 4, 2021.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a new law S.64/ A.1524  that creates a statewide restaurant meals program that allows SNAP program recipients to purchase hot and prepared meals at a time when food insecurity is at historically high levels.

The new law mandates the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to apply for United States Department of Agriculture approval so recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can purchase hot prepared meals at participating restaurants.

The U.S. is the world’s third largest food processor, and ranks twelve in nations with the highest obesity rates. One out of ten U.S. households experienced food insecurity from 2019 to 2020, and 10.5 percent of New York households also experienced food insecurity in 2020. 

Gov. Hochul signed the legislation in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn where 32.7 percent of its residents experience food insecurity, twice the New York City average, at 15.4 percent. Hochul promises a family of four could expect $200 more in payment allotments, “from $680 to $835.”

Hochul also announced the launch of the “$25 million Restaurant Resiliency Program to provide relief to the restaurant industry,” New York restaurants experienced a 44 percent drop in revenue from January 2019 to January 2020.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Roxanne Persaud, D-Brooklyn, and Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, D-Bronx.

The Restaurant Resiliency Program will accompany New York’s current Nourish initiative, the initiative allows emergency food providers to buy surplus products from New York farmers in order to serve communities in need.

During the signing of legislation in Brownsville Hochul expresses her empathy for food industry workers through a personal anecdote, “I spent five years working…I cooked the food. I served the food. I took the phone orders. I have scars on my arm to show.”

Restaurants wanting to participate in the program can apply here. To view surplus foods or to submit surplus products visit Nourish.