In 2021, many New Yorkers continued to experience unprecedented levels of hunger and hardship. Through our work on essential federal nutrition programs, we helped thousands of hungry children, seniors, and vulnerable New Yorkers gain consistent access to nutritious food. As the year comes to a close, we are proud to present an overview of our achievements:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Our Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) offers confidential, one-on-one assistance with SNAP enrollment in most counties in the state. During the past fiscal year, NOEP helped more than 23,000 households enroll in SNAP, connecting them to monthly benefits so they can buy the food they need to stay healthy.
This year we also launched the SNAP and Seniors Professional Network, an exciting new initiative that aims to close the senior SNAP gap by connecting service providers with tools and resources they need to help eligible seniors enroll in SNAP. 2022 includes ambitious plans to expand the network.
Finally, our public affairs team continues to fight to strengthen and expand SNAP, working alongside policy makers, advocates, and community leaders to improve the adequacy of benefits and increase enrollment on college campuses. In 2021, we advocated tirelessly to support increased SNAP benefits for the most vulnerable households. In June, SNAP households received a temporary 15% boost in SNAP benefits, and a permanent increase in benefits beginning on October 1st, along with monthly emergency benefits to help keep families and individuals nourished. We also tracked COVID-related SNAP waivers so that application assisters and advocates could access this important information in a timely way.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
In 2021, we were awarded a new contract from the NYS Department of Health Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to conduct outreach and education in support of this important nutrition program. WIC is underutilized in New York; only half of all eligible women and children participate. Over the next five years, our project will work to increase awareness of the WIC program in New York State, increase referrals from community partners, and increase enrollment and participation.
Child Nutrition Programs
As families continue to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, school meals have played a critical role in reducing childhood hunger during the pandemic. We helped 13 school districts (74 total school buildings) newly adopt Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a federal option that allows high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, in the 2020-21 school year. This resulted in an additional 53,797 students attending a CEP school who received free healthy meals during the school day.
We also stood as a voice for many organizations and partners across the state in support of universal school meals. The pandemic uncovered many inequities, including those faced by children in communities where free meals are not available to all. Our advocacy helped to maintain waivers for free school meals nationwide through the 2021-22 school year, and to preserve a significant expansion of CEP in the federal Build Back Better Act. In 2022, we will continue to work toward more permanent solutions to bring free school meals to all children.
Children need to be fed outside the classroom, too. We provide afterschool programs, child care providers and summer program operators with information, education, technical assistance and resources to ensure kids have access to the year-round nutrition they need to learn, grow and thrive. Thus far in 2021, our Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) outreach project has contributed to a statewide increase of 40 newly approved CACFP sponsors and 251 new sites providing healthy meals for children in care. Our statewide outreach and technical assistance for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) supported strong participation across the state, with over 570 sponsors approved to operate more than 3,000 meal sites in summer 2021.
Our public education and technical assistance on Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) helped the state deliver more than $2 billion in benefits to more than 2.4 million children statewide. These benefits provided critical support to kids who lost access to free and reduced-price school meals due to COVID-19 school closures.
In 2022, we will continue to work tirelessly improve and expand these vital nutrition programs and put nutritious food in reach of more New Yorkers. If you would like to stay in touch with us, please sign up for our e-mails.