FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741
Hunger Free NYC’s Multilingual Benefits Access Team Offers Pre-Screenings, Application Assistance, and Re-Certification Help
With Child Hunger Now at 38 Percent in NYC, Nonprofit Organization is Working to Ensure Kids and Parents Receive Federal Nutrition Benefits
Hunger Free New York City — a division of Hunger Free America, a national, nonpartisan direct service and advocacy organization — has increased the capacity of its Benefits Access team to assist more New Yorkers enroll in federally-funded food assistance programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). As hunger is skyrocketing across New York City, with 38 percent of parents reporting they had skipped meals or cut portions for their children because they lacked enough money for food in April, the need for federal food assistance programs is greater now more than ever.
Hunger Free NYC’s Benefits Access team offers free SNAP application support to households in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Russian, and their WIC team offers support in English and Spanish. Both teams serve all five boroughs of New York City and assist clients through every step of the application and re-certification process. Benefits Access specialists first screen clients to find out if they are eligible for SNAP and WIC benefits. For clients eligible for SNAP, they can help them file their applications electronically and submit required documents, and advocate on clients’ behalf if they are not approved for an appropriate amount of benefits. WIC-eligible clients are assisted with potential application barriers and guided through the steps of the application process, which can now be done remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They also help with SNAP and WIC re-certification and follow-up after clients have been approved.
“As the economic ramifications of the pandemic continue into the next few months and years, federally-funded nutrition programs such as SNAP and WIC will be a life preserver for the 2 million New Yorkers that are drowning in hunger,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. “Our Benefits Access team in New York City continues to provide vital services by connecting seniors, parents, and children to food assistance that not only reduces hunger but also helps stimulate the local economy through increased purchases at supermarkets, bodegas, and farmers’ markets.”
From March through June of this year, Hunger Free NYC pre-screened more than 1,575 households for SNAP eligibility, with 930 of those families ultimately receiving SNAP benefits. Because of Hunger Free NYC’s intervention, these SNAP households will receive more than $2.7 million in collective annual benefits. The NYC team also helped hundreds of households enroll in the WIC Program over the same four-month time period.
Unlike SNAP, which has limits on who qualifies for benefits based on immigration status, all pregnant and postpartum women and families with children under age 5 may qualify for WIC benefits — regardless of immigration status.
“Our goal is to make sure every household that is eligible for SNAP and WIC benefits receives this assistance,” Berg continued. “These programs have been historically under-utilized, but with more and more families experiencing economic hardship and hunger due to Covid-19, it’s essential for us to increase our outreach and help as many New Yorkers as possible, especially vulnerable immigrant populations.”
Hunger Free NYC encourages all New Yorkers who believe they may qualify for SNAP to contact Benefits Specialist Gira Peguero at (646) 350-0353 and to contact WIC Benefits Specialist Andrea Quintana at (646) 453-7064 for information about WIC. Families in need of emergency food are encouraged to call the USDA National Hunger Hotline, managed by Hunger Free America, to find out where they can go to receive immediate food help. The USDA National Hunger Hotline can be reached by phone or text at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET).