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COVID-19 UPDATES

NY State Updates on Coronavirus and Operation of Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs

For the 2.2 million people living in NY households that struggle against hunger, COVID-19 presents unique challenges.

Hunger Solutions New York is working to provide updates that can help schools, community organizations, and families mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the food security of low-income people.

Have you or your family been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak?

You may be eligible for programs that help you buy food. Get information on applying for SNAP and WIC during the COVID-19 outbreak, and learn how we can help.

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School Meals —updated 4/20/21

4/20/21 Update:

USDA has issued a number of nationwide child nutrition waivers for the 2021-2022 school year. The waivers—effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022—allow:

For more information, see NYS Education Department’s memo. Additional guidance is forthcoming.

 

8/26/2020 Update:
School Meal Waivers for the 2020-2021 School Year
USDA Waivers approved for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021

Schools who operate the NSLP and SBP (also referred to as School Food Authorities (SFAs)) must notify the NYSED Office of Child Nutrition of their plan to use any of the following waivers necessary for operations during the 2020-2021 school year:

  • Non-Congregate Feeding
  • Meal Service Time Flexibility
  • Bulk meals require both non-congregate and meal service time waivers
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick Up
  • Meal Pattern Flexibility
  • “Offer Versus Serve” Flexibility for Senior High Schools.

NYSED Office of Child Nutrition has provided guidance to SFAs on each of these waivers here.

School Food Authorities must contact their NYSED Child Nutrition Program Representative to ensure operations are within waiver allowances

NYSED Reopening Guidance

“The closing of schools in March 2020 has profoundly affected the lives of New Yorkers. This impact will continue through the 2020-21 school year and beyond. While no one can predict all the challenges that may arise over the coming weeks and months, it is imperative that we plan for a safe and orderly return to school.”

View the entire reopening plan on NYSED’s website here. Information specific to Child Nutrition can be found on page 54 of the Reopening Schools Guidance.

 

5/20/2020 Update:
Nationwide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Data Waiver
USDA Guidance
NYSED Memo

USDA-FNS issued a nationwide waiver extending CEP deadlines due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The two key changes for schools newly adopting or recertifying for CEP for the 2020-21 school year include:

  • Applications must be submitted by August 31, 2020 (typically the deadline to apply is June 30th)
  • Eligibility for CEP can be based on enrollment from any time between April 1st – June 30, 2020 and 2019-20 direct certification data (typically only April 1st enrollment is used).

New York State Education Department (NYSED) is now accepting applications from schools and has posted the memo explaining the application submission process.

USDA /FNS also extended CEP notification and reporting and deadlines for NYSED for the 2020-21 school year. NYSED must notify schools of CEP eligibility by June 15, 2020 and must also submit the lists of CEP-eligible LEAs and schools by June 30, 2020.

Learn more about CEP here. For assistance applying or evaluating the financial viability of CEP, please contact Jessica.PinoGoodspeed@HungerSolutionsNY.org

CEP RequirementAnnual DeadlineWaiver Deadline
Data Used to Calculate ISPApril 1Anytime between April1 – June 30, 2020
LEA NotificationApril 15June 15, 2020
State Agency NotificationApril 15June 15, 2020
State Agency PublicationMay 1June 30, 2020
Elect CEP for Following SYJune 30August 31, 2020

 

4/15/20 Update:
NYSED Memo, “60-Day Claim Deadline Waiver,” provides guidance on the USDA’s nationwide waiver of the 60-day reporting requirement for January and February 2020; the waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Special Milk Program.

The waiver permits School Food Authorities (SFAs) an additional 30 calendar days from the original required date of submission to submit reimbursement claims.

  • January 2020 claims, originally due April 1, 2020, are due April 29, 2020 under the waiver submission deadline.
  • February 2020 claims, originally due April 29, 2020, are due May 30, 2020 under the waiver submission deadline.

This waiver is effective immediately. NYSED urges SFAs to utilize this waiver only if needed and to remain as vigilant with claim submission as possible.

 

4/2/20 Update:
NYS Education Department memo, “Child Nutrition Program Waivers Available During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” provides an online form for sponsors operating the Summer Food Service Program or the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program to apply for temporary waivers to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19. NYSED must review and approve waivers prior to Program operator implementation. Available waivers include:

  • Meal Pattern Waiver: Upon approval from NYSED, Program operators are waived from serving meals that meet specific meal pattern requirements as identified by the Program operator in its waiver application.
  • Afterschool Activity in the Snack Program Waiver: Upon approval from NYSED, this waives the requirements to serve afterschool snacks in a structured and supervised environment with an educational or enrichment activity.
  • Meal Service Time Waiver: Upon approval from NYSED, this waives the meal service time requirements established for both the Seamless Summer Option and the Summer Food Service Program.
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick-Up Waiver: Upon approval from NYSED, Program operators approved by NYSED for non-congregate meal distribution during COVID-19-related operations may distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children.
  • On-site Monitoring Requirements in the SFSP Waiver: Upon approval from NYSED, this waives the SFSP on-site monitoring requirements.
  • Area Eligibility Waiver: Upon approval from NYSED, this waiver allows SFSP and SSO sponsors to operate open sites in areas approved by NYSED based on economic hardship, but that are not in designated area eligible locations.

NYSED will provide information regarding any additional flexibilities as they are made available. Please contact your Child Nutrition Program Representative, or email CNCOVID@nysed.gov if you have questions or concerns.

4/1/20 Update:
New York State Waiver of Area Eligibility for Summer Meals
USDA Policy Memo
New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) waiver request to maintain children’s access to meals during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was approved by USDA. Program sponsors should contact NYSED directly for further guidance.

Highlights from USDA Policy Memo:

  • This waives the restrictions on site area eligibility requirements in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option (SSO).
  • This allows previously non-area eligible school food authorities and community organizations, in good standing, to serve meals to all children through SFSP sites and SSO during the emergency school closures associated with COVID-19.
  • Typically, open summer meal sites (where all children can eat) must be located in areas where at least 50 percent of NSLP participants are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. This waiver lifts this requirement.
  • USDA has directed NYSED to have a plan for ensuring that new meal sites are targeting benefits to children in need, for example, children who may be newly eligible for benefits due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • This waiver is effective as of March 23, 2020 and remains in effect until June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier. FNS recognizes that there may be a continued need for this waiver, and will carefully assess the situation on an ongoing basis.

 

3/30/20 Update:
Nationwide Waivers of Child Nutrition Monitoring
USDA Policy Memo
USDA/FNS has granted a nationwide waiver to eliminate the requirement to conduct on-site monitoring visits due to the exceptional circumstances of this public health emergency.

  • USDA has outlined specific requirements for sponsors and NYSED for each program waiver.
  • A waiver has been granted for each of the following Child Nutrition Programs: school meals (NSLP and SBP); CACFP; and SFSP. Each detailed memo can be found in the USDA Policy Memo.
  • These waivers are effective immediately, and remain in effect through June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier

 

3/26/20 Update:
The following waivers have been issued:

Nationwide Waiver to Allow Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children
USDA Guidance
Program operators in a State with an approved waiver allowing non-congregate meal distribution during COVID-19-related operations may distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children.

Highlights from USDA Guidance:

  • This waiver supports access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19
  • It applies to the Child Nutrition Programs: National School Lunch Program (NSLP), including the Seamless Summer Option (SSO); School Breakfast Program (SBP); Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
  • States must develop a plan to maintain accountability and program integrity to:
    • Ensure that meals are distributed only to parents or guardians of eligible children,
    • Ensure duplicate meals are not distributed to any child.
  • This waiver is effective immediately and remains in effect until June 30, 2020, or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.

Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs
USDA Guidance
This waiver provides nationwide approval for states to locally waive specific meal pattern requirements for breakfast, lunch, snack and supper as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the COVID-19.

Highlights from USDA Guidance:

  • The waiver applies to all of the federal child nutrition programs: SBP, NSLP, SFSP, and CACFP.
  • While the waiver is available to all states, program sponsors must submit requests to their state agency for approval that demonstrate disruptions to the availability of food products.
  • USDA guidance states that NYSED should consider requests that are targeted and justified based upon disruptions to the availability of food products resulting from unprecedented impacts of COVID-19.
  • FNS expects and strongly encourages program operators to maintain and meet the nutrition standards for each Program to the greatest extent possible.
  • This waiver is effective immediately and remains in effect until April 30, 2020 or until expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier. FNS is offering this flexibility in short term increments and will continue to reevaluate.

 

 

3/19/20 Update:
Schools and community partners can leverage federal resources and work together to ensure access to nutritious meals during school closures. The summer nutrition programs (the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the National School Lunch Program) are available to provide meals during school closures. Many schools are already using these programs to provide meals to students.

Resources have been made available to schools working to feed children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during school closures:

  • New guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture was released regarding the delivery of meals during school closures related to COVID-19. This Q&A will provide schools and community partners clarification during this unique situation.
  • Ensuring Access to the Child Nutrition Programs in the Event of School Closures is a fact sheet from Food Research & Action Center outlining model meal programs during school closures.
  • No Kid Hungry Emergency Relief Grants Available$1 million in emergency grants are available to support local efforts like home delivered meals, grab and go meals programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs, and other steps to help reach children and families who lose access to meals due to school closures related to COVID-19. If your school or organization needs funding to support these efforts, please submit your interest in receiving emergency grant funds.

 

3/13/20 Update:
NYS Education Department Guidance: “Operating Child Nutrition Programs when Schools are Closed due to COVID-19” encourages schools to prepare now to be able to continue to provide “critical support services” like school meals in the event of a school closure.
 Highlights include:

  • School districts and sponsors in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) may provide reimbursable meals to low-income children during school closures related to COVID-19.
  • To provide meals to children in areas affected by school closures, schools must complete a one page application and submit to CNCOVID@nysed.gov for review and approval, prior to commencing meal operations.
  • Upon Child Nutrition’s approval of their application, schools may provide up to two meals per day per child through the SFSP or the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) of the National School Lunch Program.
  • Meals may be provided and consumed at schools or other locations in the community or provided for consumption at home.
  • This memo also includes a Q&A to clarify guidance for operating child nutrition programs when schools are closed due to COVID-19.

We encourage any school with questions to please contact your Child Nutrition Program Representative directly, or email CNCOVID@nysed.gov if you have additional questions or concerns.

Summer Meals Programs —updated 4/20/21

4/20/21 Update:

USDA has issued a number of nationwide child nutrition waivers for the 2021-2022 school year. The waivers—effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022—allow:

For more information, see NYS Education Department’s memo. Additional guidance is forthcoming.

 

4/1/21 Update:

USDA issued a nationwide waiver allowing SFSP sponsors that operated successfully in FY2019 to operate as experienced sponsors in FY2021. For more information, see the USDA memo, and contact your NYSED Child Nutrition Representative.

 

3/9/21 Update:
USDA has extended nationwide summer meal program waivers through September 30, 2021. Read USDA’s press release and memo for more details. Additional guidance is forthcoming.

The waiver extensions allow:

 

10/13/20 Update:

USDA has extended nationwide waivers allowing continued Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) operations through June 30, 2021. NYSED issued a memo outlining the waiver extensions, with additional guidance forthcoming.
The waiver extensions allow:

 

9/1/20 Update:
USDA has extended several summer meal program waivers through December 31, 2020, allowing schools and SFSP sponsors to continue serving free meals to all children during the start of the 2020-2021 school year. The nationwide waiver extensions allow:

 

8/24/20 Update:
USDA has extended several nationwide waivers to allow continued non-congregate meal distribution through the start of the school year, or September 30, 2020, whichever is earlier. Those waivers include:

  • Non-congregate feeding, allowing meals to be served to children outside of the normally-required group setting (e.g., grab-and-go or home-delivered meals).
  • Parent pickup, allowing distribution of meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their child(ren).
  • Area eligibility, allowing sponsors to operate sites in locations that do not meet area eligibility requirements.
  • Meal pattern flexibility, on a case-by-case basis.

 

6/10/20 Update:
USDA issued a nationwide waiver for area eligibility requirements through August 31, 2020, allowing summer meal sponsors to be approved to operate open sites in all areas, not just those where 50% or more of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. This waiver applies to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option.

USDA also extended nationwide waivers for:

 

5/15/20 Update:
USDA Press Release

USDA has extended several nationwide waivers to allow continued non-congregate meal distribution through August 31, 2020. These waivers include:

  • Non-Congregate Feeding, allowing meals to be served to children outside of the normally-required group setting, in alignment with social distancing.
  • Parent Pickup, allowing distribution of meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children.
  • Meal Times, waiving requirements that meals be served within certain time frames; this flexibility allows for grab-and-go options, and for multiple days-worth of meals to be provided at once.

 

5/5/20 Update:
USDA and NYSED have extended 2020 application deadlines for Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors.

In New York, all SFSP sponsor applications are now due June 15, 2020, including new sponsor applications and annual renewals for returning sponsors. The previous deadlines were May 1st for new sponsors, and June 1st for returning sponsors. Read the USDA memo and visit NYSED’s SFSP webpage for more information.

As a reminder, sponsors can add or modify meal sites at any time, including throughout the summer, with NYSED approval.

Schools or organizations interested in becoming sponsors should contact NYSED Child Nutrition as soon as possible for training materials and further guidance: cnsfsp@nysed.gov

CACFP —updated 4/20/21

For CACFP questions, contact CACFP at 1-800-942-3858 or cacfp@health.ny.gov.

4/20/21 Update:

USDA has issued a number of nationwide child nutrition waivers for the 2021-2022 school year. The waivers—effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022—allow:

 

10/13/20 Update:
USDA Memo

USDA extended a nationwide waiver of area eligibility requirements for the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Snack and Supper component through June 30, 2021. The waiver allows eligible schools, afterschool programs, and childcare centers to participate in CACFP’s At-Risk component regardless of location, waiving the usual requirement that programs be located in the enrollment area of a school where 50% of more of the students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

 

9/25/20 Update:
NYS DOH Memo

NYS Department of Health’s memo, “Remote Learning in Childcare Settings during Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19),” provides guidance on claiming meals for school-age children in child care centers and day care homes during the school day. Highlights include:

  • Through June 30, 2021, CACFP sponsors can claim meals served to school-age children who are attending school virtually in childcare settings.
  • Centers and day care home providers may claim two meals and one snack, or two snacks and one meal per child per day.
  • Income eligibility applications must be maintained for centers and Tier 1 day care home providers’ own children.
  • Meals brought from home or provided by the local school district cannot be claimed through CACFP.
  • Virtual or remote learning days are considered school days. On school days, At-Risk snack and/or supper may only be claimed if served after the school day has ended, in afterschool care. On non-school days (holidays, school vacation, snow days, and days when the school does not have in-person or remote learning scheduled), At-Risk meals can be claimed when served during the day.

 

9/18/20 Update:
USDA Waiver

USDA has issued a nationwide waiver for area eligibility requirements for the CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Snack and Supper component through December 31, 2020. The waiver allows eligible schools and afterschool programs to participate in the At-Risk component regardless of location, waiving the usual requirement that programs be located in the enrollment area of a school where 50% of more of the students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

 

6/25/20 Update:
USDA has extended several nationwide waivers to allow continued non-congregate meal distribution through June 30, 2021. Those waivers include:

 

5/15/20 Update:
USDA Press Release

USDA has extended several nationwide waivers to allow continued non-congregate meal distribution through August 31, 2020. These waivers include:

  • Non-Congregate Feeding, allowing meals to be served to children outside of the normally-required group setting, in alignment with social distancing.
  • Parent Pickup, allowing distribution of meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their children.
  • Meal Times, waiving requirements that meals be served within certain time frames; this flexibility allows for grab-and-go options, and for multiple days-worth of meals to be provided at once.

 

3/31/30 Update:
NYS Department of Health memo, “Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates for CACFP Sponsoring Organizations,” provides guidance on nationwide waivers related to meal pick-up, meal patterns, and monitoring. Highlights include:

  • Centers and family day care home providers who are approved for non-congregate feeding may distribute meals to a parent or guardian to take home to their enrolled child. Therefore, enrolled children do not have to be present when parents/guardians pick up meals or when meals are delivered during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • If there is a shortage of a required food component, sponsoring organizations may request approval from CACFP to claim meals that do not include all the required components.
  • CACFP monitoring requirements have been decreased. Please read the memo for more information.

 

3/30/20 Update:
NYS Department of Health’s “Guidance for Non-Congregate Feeding During COVID-19” provides information for CACFP sponsors regarding non-congregate meal service. Highlights include:

  • USDA granted a nationwide waiver for non-congregate feeding, which allows CACFP sponsors to continue serving meals to children and adult participants individually. In order to be approved for non-congregate meal service, the sponsor must complete the CACFP-213 COVID-19 Application for Feeding Flexibility (included with the memo to sponsors).
  • Meals can be distributed at a site where households pick up the meals or delivered to children and/or adult participant’s homes, or a combination of both.
  • Sponsors may provide multiple meals and snacks at one time for up to a 3-day period.
  • All meals and snacks must meet CACFP meal pattern requirements.
  • Adult Day Care and Programs offering At-Risk Afterschool Meals are not required to offer enrichment activities at this time.

 

3/19/20 Update:
NYS Department of Health guidance, “Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for CACFP Sponsoring Organizations,” explains current flexibilities, waivers submitted to USDA for approval, and other resources available to CACFP providers. Highlights include:

  • NYS CACFP has submitted several waivers to USDA, and will notify sponsoring organizations if they are approved. Please read the linked memo for additional information.
  • When a school is closed, the school may establish an emergency program through the Child Nutrition Programs to provide food to children who normally attend their school; childcare centers or homes can also receive meals from these schools or other sites at no cost.

SNAP —updated 4/13/21

4/13/21 Update:
COVID-19 Emergency Allotments to ALL Families/Individuals Receiving SNAP in April

Emergency Allotments (EA) of SNAP benefits were authorized by Congress under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. The EA of SNAP will continue each month until the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted in our state or nation.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) previously approved NYS’s plan to distribute EA of SNAP benefits monthly from March 2020 –April 2021. OTDA must submit a monthly plan to FNS for approval in order to provide the EA to SNAP recipients in NYS. Hunger Solutions New York will continue to monitor USDA’s approval of EA of SNAP for NYS and will provide information on the monthly distribution schedule and other important information, as it becomes available.

Starting in April 2021 all SNAP households are now eligible for the EA of SNAP benefits due to USDA’s new guidance.

In April 2021 EA of SNAP benefits will now be:

  • $95 a month for those already receiving the maximum SNAP benefit,
  • $95 a month for those with a calculated EA amount of less than $95, and
  • for all other households the EA amount will equal the difference between their regular
    monthly SNAP benefit and the maximum benefit for their households’ size.

See the COVID-19 Emergency April Emergency Allotments to SNAP Households guidance from OTDA.

This Consumer FAQ explains who will receive the April EA supplement benefit, provides a chart with the new January 1 SNAP maximum benefit allotments, and highlights what SNAP clients should know about this supplement SNAP benefit.

Issuance Schedule for April 2021:

  • NYC: issuance based on the last digit of the case number from 4/17 through 4/23, and from 4/24 through 4/30/2021.
    • SNAP EA benefits will be available the day after they are issued per the schedules above.
  • Rest of State: issuance based on each districts caseload which will be divided randomly, from 4/12 through 4/15, and from 4/19 through 4/22/2021.
    • SNAP EA benefits will be available after midnight on the day after they are issued per the schedule above.
  • Additional Issuance Days in April: due to the volume of cases receiving EA in April it may be necessary to add days to the issuance schedule above. If needed the additional issuances will start on 4/26 and continue until completed.

Other Important details include:

  • All SNAP households eligible for a benefit in April will receive an EA supplement SNAP benefit. See the chart in the FAQ .
  • The April EA supplement benefits will be automatically added to the SNAP EBT card of each eligible SNAP household. A notice about the EA supplement will not be sent by the SNAP office. Those eligible for the supplement should keep checking their EBT balance.
  • For newly approved SNAP cases in April, additional issuances will be run to catch those cases that did not receive the April EA supplement in the original issuances listed above.
  • Families and individuals who get SNAP and are eligible to receive the April EA SNAP supplemental benefit do not need to do anything. SNAP clients do not need to apply for the benefit and are being asked not to call local districts to inquire about the benefit.
  • EA SNAP supplement benefits do not need to be spent immediately. Unused SNAP benefits, including the EA supplement, remain available on the EBT card for up to one year from the date they appear on the card.

 

4/5/21 Update:
On March 29, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

The Continuing Resolution (CR) recently passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on October 1, 2020, reinstated the SNAP interview adjustment waivers and certification extension period waiver originally authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The CR reinstated and extended the availability of these waivers through June 30, 2021.

In NYS, these waivers have been extended further and are now in effect from April 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021. SNAP offices have a choice in implementing these waivers although most counties in NYS continue to utilize interview waivers at this time.

Interview at Initial Application and Recertification
SNAP offices are not required to interview a household at initial application or recertification through June 30, 2021 if the following conditions are met:

  • the applicant’s identity has been verified; and,
  • all other mandatory information and verification has been provided and is valid:
    • Identity
    • Social Security Number
    • Residency
    • Gross non-exempt income (earned and unearned)
    • Disability
    • Immigration Status (also referred to as, “Alien Status” by OTDA)
  • If either of these conditions are not met, then an interview will be required.
  • SNAP offices are directed to make every attempt to verify household circumstances through data matching and information currently present in the State and district systems.
  • SNAP offices will be required to interview the household if any of the information or verification submitted is unclear or cannot be verified through separate data matches.

New Applications Eligible for Expedited Processing
SNAP offices can choose to apply the following rules through June 30, 2021:

  • SNAP applications found eligible for expedited processing may be processed and an expedited benefit issued without an interview being attempted or taking place if the following conditions are met:
    • the applicant’s identity has been verified; and
    • the applicant has provided enough information for the SNAP office to determine eligibility and calculate a SNAP benefit.
  • SNAP applicants receiving an expedited benefit and being processed for ongoing SNAP benefits do not need to be interviewed if they submitted all mandatory verification (see list of mandatory verification above) prior to receiving the ongoing SNAP benefits.

 

4/2/21 Update:
On March 23, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The Act includes the extension of previously authorized Federal Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Benefit payments, the issuance of 2021 Recovery Rebate Payments and monthly Child Tax Credits.

This update highlights how these payments will be treated under SNAP rules.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Payments:
The ARP authorized extensions for both Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) through September 6, 2021.

SNAP budgeting rules count Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) as unearned income. Both the PUA and PEUC are for workers who are ineligible for regular UIB. Therefore, the PUA and PEUC benefits are viewed as regular unemployment benefits for workers under SNAP rules.

Additionally, the ARP extends the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Payments (FPUC) through September 6, 2021. The FPUC provides an additional $300 in federally funded dollars to the weekly UIB payments of eligible worker and will be provided through the NYS Department of Labor. The FPUC payments are also available to people who have earned over $5,000 or more in self-employment income during the last year. This is called a Mixed Earner Benefit and is equal to an additional $100 each week in UIB benefits to eligible workers.

Treatment as Income/Resources for SNAP:

  • UIB/PUA/PEUC payments COUNT as unearned income.
  • FPUC $300/$100 payments are EXCLUDED as income and resources in the month of receipt and for 9 months following receipt.
    • Retroactive FPUC payments are excluded as income for SNAP.

2021 Recovery Rebates (aka Stimulus Checks)
The Act authorizes additional recovery rebates for individuals including children, similar to the payments authorized under the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 when $1,200 payments and $600 payments were authorized.

Treatment as Income/Resources for SNAP:

  • Excluded as income in the month of receipt.
  • Excluded as a resource* for 12 months following receipt.

*Most SNAP Households in NYS do not have a resource test for SNAP due to Categorical Eligibility (Cat-El).

2021 Child Tax Credits (CTC)
The ARP expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and allows households with children to claim up to $3,600 and allows for the CTC to be provided in advance monthly payments.

Treatment as Income/Resources for SNAP:

  • Excluded as income in the month of receipt.
    • This applies if the CTC is received as either an annual payment or advanced monthly payments.
  • Excluded as a resource* for 12 months following receipt.

*Most SNAP Households in NYS do not have a resource test for SNAP due to Categorical Eligibility (Cat-El).

 

3/23/21 Update:
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 brings much-needed relief to households in need, investing $12 billion in nutrition assistance programs designed to mitigate unprecedented rates of hunger across the nation.

The Act extends the 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit through September 2021. Other SNAP investments provide administrative funds to help states accommodate increased demand and expanded access for families to use SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online.

See our updated October 1 Toolkit with updated materials reflecting the extension of the 15% SNAP Boost.

 

1/25/21 Update:
SNAP Gets a 15% Boost and More in the Newest COVID Package Passed by Congress

The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that was signed into law on December 27 provides funding for needed nutrition assistance, including investments in SNAP, that will go a long way toward addressing the rising hunger crisis associated with the pandemic and economic downturn.

See the Upstate and NYC – Impacts of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 guidance from OTDA.

Six-Month Boost to SNAP Maximum Benefits

The Act increases the maximum monthly SNAP benefit allotments (AKA: Thrifty Food Plan) by 15% from January 1 through June 30, 2021.

See our SNAP Budget Worksheet for the updated Thrifty Food Plan (pg. 2, Chart D) amounts per household size that took effect on January 1.

The SNAP benefit increase is the difference between the old maximum benefit amount and the new maximum benefit amount based on household size.

For example:

SNAP Household SizeOctober – December 2020 Benefit amountJanuary – June 2021 Benefit AmountChange in Benefit Amount
1$204$234$30
2$374$430$56
3$535$616$81

In January only, the 15% increase will be issued as a supplement to all eligible SNAP households in addition to the January Emergency Allotments (EAs).

Issuance Schedule for January 2021 15% SNAP Boost:

  • NYC: issuance based on the last digit of the case number on 1/15, from 1/19 through 1/22, and from 1/25 through 1/29/2021.
  • Rest of State: issuance based on each districts caseload which will be divided randomly, from 1/11 through 1/14, and from 1/18 through 1/21/2021.

Beginning in February and continuing through June, the 15% increase to the maximum SNAP benefits will be incorporated into the regular monthly SNAP benefit issuance processes and amounts.

Additionally, the NYS Nutrition Improvement Project (NYSNIP) benefits will increase by 15% from January 1 through June 30, 2021. Find an updated NYSNIP Matrix with the temporary increase included here.

Minimum Benefit Change

The Act also increase the minimum monthly SNAP allotment for households of one or two from $16 to $19.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Payments

This package extends the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Payments (FPUC) by providing an additional $300 a week of federally funded unemployment benefits to eligible workers.

Under SNAP rules, the $300 FPUC does not count as income or a resource when determining eligibility and calculating benefits for SNAP.

Student Eligibility

The Act temporarily expands SNAP eligibility for students who are enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher education.

SNAP rules regulate that students enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher learning must be working 20 hours or more a week or meet an exemption to the student rules in order to participate in SNAP. For more information on the SNAP rules for students,  see our SNAP Prescreening Guide (pgs. 30 -31).

First, the Act amends an already allowable exemption around work study. Prior to January students participating in work study (no hourly minimum) were eligible for SNAP if they met all other income and eligibility criteria.

The amended exemption is below:

  • A student is eligible for SNAP if the student is eligible to participate in state or federal work-study, regardless if the student is actively employed or participating in work-study and meets all other SNAP eligibility criteria.

Second, the Act offers a new allowable exemption for students:

  • A student is eligible for SNAP if they have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year under federal student financial aid rules (determination under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that is used to calculate the amount of federal Pell Grants and other aid for a which a student qualifies) and meets all other SNAP eligibility criteria.

The amended student eligibility rules will remain in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 federal public health emergency is lifted. Students granted one of these temporary exemptions will continue to be eligible for SNAP until their next recertification regardless of the COVID-19 emergency declaration being lifted at any time during the student’s certification period.

For more information, visit our SNAP and Students page.

2020 Recovery Rebate Payments for Individuals

Finally, the Act authorizes $600 rebate payments to eligible individuals, including children, similar to those authorize under the CARES Act.

For SNAP purposes these rebate payments are:

  • excluded as income in the month they are received, and
  • excluded as a resource for 12 months following receipt.

 

11/9/20 Update:
Extension on Recertifications
NYS is allowing SNAP offices to again extend recertifications in order to help re-distribute and balance the SNAP recertification workload over the next federal fiscal year and to promote timely approval of benefits for eligible households. Important details include:

  • SNAP offices are not required to extend certification periods for SNAP households.
  • SNAP offices may choose to extend recertifications for up to six months for SNAP households that have not already received a six-month extension previously (March 2020 – June 2020 and July 2020 in NYC only).
  • SNAP offices that want to extend certification periods must submit a plan to OTDA and the goal of the plan must be to balance the recertification workload for the period of October 2020 through September 2021.

 

9/29/20 Update:
On September 24, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

Treatment of the New Supplement Lost Wages Payments for SNAP

Supplemental Lost Wages (SLW) payments are being issued by the NYS Department of Labor and provide an additional $300 in federally funded dollars each week to the Unemployment Insurance Benefit (UBI) of eligible workers.

  • SLW payments must NOT be counted as income or as a resource in determining eligibility or calculating a benefit amount for SNAP.
  • If a SNAP recipient receives the SLW retroactively, the retroactive benefits are also not counted as income.
  • The SLW payments are funded differently than the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments of $600. This is why the SLW payments are treated differently under SNAP rules.

On August 14, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social services districts. Highlights include:

Statewide Waiver of the Able Bodied Without Dependents Time Limits

Beginning October 1, 2020, SNAP offices throughout NYS are not to impose the ABAWD three-month time limit rule.

In August 2020, OTDA provided SNAP offices with an update on the suspension of the ABAWD rule in NYS. Due to NYS’ eligibility for extended unemployment benefits, FNS has approved OTDA’s request to waive the ABAWD time limit rule in all areas of the state from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, or until the date when FNS puts the new rule on ABAWD waiver standards into effect, whichever occurs first.

  • This is in addition to the current temporary and partial nationwide suspension of ABAWD time limit rules in all states.
    • The original suspension of the ABAWD time limit rule in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act started on April 1, 2020 and continues for a month after the current public health emergency declaration due to COVID-19 is lifted.
    • See our 3/30/20 post below for more information.

SNAP recipients who are newly determined to fall under the ABAWD time limit rule will be sent a notice about this determination. These letters are not a notice of a requirement to work or take any action. They merely let the SNAP recipient know that they fall under the criteria for the ABAWD time limit rules which are currently suspended.

 

9/14/20 Update:
On September 10th the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) released a fraud alert warning of scams targeting SNAP recipients. Highlights include:

  • USDA has received reports of several possible SNAP Fraud attempts including attempts in NYC.
  • Be aware of a scam using texting to obtain your personal information. The text might say you were chosen to receive food stamps or SNAP. If you do not know if a request for information about SNAP is real or not, contact your local SNAP office.
  • Never share personal information with individuals or organizations that you do not know. Personal information includes your social security number, bank information, or SNAP electronic benefits transfer card or PIN number.
  • If you think the text is a scam, do not reply at all. Just delete.
  • If SNAP participants are unsure if a request for information is legitimate, USDA advises they contact their local SNAP office. To find your local SNAP/HRA office call:
    • Outside New York City, dial 800-342-3009
    • In New York City, dial 311.
  • To stay on top of potential scams, please visit:

 

7/6/20 Update:
On July 2, NYS OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

Six-month Extension on July Recertifications in NYC

  • USDA approved OTDA’s request for a six-month extension of the recertification period for NYC clients whose SNAP cases will expire at the end of July 2020.
  • NYC SNAP recipients who were to recertify for SNAP or TA/MA and SNAP in July will be given a six-month extension of SNAP benefits.
  • NYC SNAP participants who recertified for July and had their recertification processed by the SNAP office will not be eligible for the six-month extension.
  • The six-month extension for the July recertifications will allow NYC SNAP offices until January 31, 2021 to recertify any case that was originally scheduled to be recertified by July 31, 2020.
  • SNAP recipients will NOT be sent a notice on this extension of benefits or the new deadlines for recertification.
  • NYC SNAP offices must post flyers in English and Spanish regarding the extension of the July recertifications periods.
    • The flyers provide information on the new recertification dates and remind SNAP recipients if they do not recertify by the end of the six-month extension their SNAP benefits will end.
  • There will be no further extensions of SNAP certification periods in NYC.

NYC HRA issued specific information for people needing SNAP benefit information in New York City.

  • Previously, SNAP recipients who were to recertify for SNAP or TA/MA and SNAP in March, April, May or June were given a six-month extension of SNAP benefits in NYC and most upstate counties. See full details of the extensions in our 5/8/20 update below.

 

7/2/20 Update:
On June 30, NYS OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

July Recertifications Will Resume in All Upstate Counties

  • USDA denied OTDA’s request for a statewide six-month extension of the recertification period in July for all SNAP recipients.
  • SNAP offices, except for those in NYC, must recertify all SNAP cases that have a certification period ending in July 2020.
    • SNAP recipients who are to recertify for SNAP or TA/MA and SNAP in July must recertify according to normal recertification requirements in order to continue to receive SNAP benefits.
  • Previously, SNAP recipients who were to recertify for SNAP or TA/MA and SNAP in March, April, May or June were given a six-month extension of SNAP benefits in NYC and most upstate counties.  See full details of the extensions in our 5/8/20 update below.

 

5/20/20 Update:
On May 14 OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts.

COVID-19 SNAP Employment Requirements

SNAP offices:

  • are reminded that these rules will remain in effect during this public health crisis and until otherwise instructed by OTDA.
  • must not take negative actions against SNAP applicants/recipients for not complying with work requirements that involve in-person contact.
  • should not give SNAP applicants/recipients new work assignments that cannot be completed at home.
  • must continue to suspend all required in-person work activity assignments.
  • should grant good cause exceptions to SNAP applicants/recipients that do not meet in-person work requirements or activities.

Employment Assessments and Employment Plan

  • SNAP offices should do employment assessments and employment plans by telephone.
  • Completed or updated employment plans, discussed by phone, should be mailed to the SNAP applicant/recipient.

Orientation

  • SNAP offices may conduct employment orientations by phone, online or by providing written materials by mail.

Distance Learning

  • SNAP offices should encourage individuals currently enrolled in educational activities to participate in these activities through online and distance learning options where available and accessible to the participant.

Job Search/Job Readiness Training

  • SNAP offices should postpone any mandatory work assignments until further notice.

 

5/8/20 Update:
On May 4th, NYS OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

Six-month Extension on Recertifications

  • SNAP recipients who were to recertify for SNAP or TA/MA/SNAP in March, April, May, or June will be given a six-month extension of SNAP benefits in NYC and most upstate counties*.
  • SNAP participants who recertified in March, April, May, or June and had their recertification processed by the SNAP office will not be eligible for the six-month extension.
  • SNAP recipients will NOT be sent a notice on this extension of benefits or the new deadlines for recertification.
  • SNAP offices must post these flyers in English and Spanish.
  • The flyers provide information on the new recertification dates and remind SNAP recipients if they do not recertify by the end of the six-month extension their SNAP benefits will end.

NYC HRA issued specific information for people needing SNAP benefit information in New York City.

*The following upstate counties will NOT extend recerts for an additional three-months: Monroe, Warren and Wyoming.

  • In these counties’ recertification for March, April and May were extended for 3 months. SNAP offices in these counties must continue to post these flyers in English and Spanish.
  • The flyers provide information on the new recertification dates and remind SNAP recipients if they do not recertify by the end of the three-month extension their SNAP benefits will end.

 

4/8/20 Update:
On April 6, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

SNAP Treatment of COVID-19 Stimulus “Recovery Rebates”

The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes direct payments for low- and middle-income families of $1,200 for most adults ($2,400 for a married couple) and $500 for children under age 17.

Treatment as Income:

  • The one-time “Recovery Rebate” payments are not counted as income for SNAP. The payment is excluded as a non-recurring, lump sum payment, and does not count as income under SNAP rules.

Treatment as a Resources:

Most SNAP Households in NYS do not have a resource test for SNAP due to Categorical Eligibility (Cat-El). The information below applies to households who are NOT categorically eligible for SNAP.

  • For households currently receiving SNAP: payments are excluded as a resource for 12 months from the date the payment is received.  Any remaining balance after a year would be counted as a resource.
  • For new SNAP applicants: payments are excluded as a resource in the month received, and the month after. Any remaining balance would be counted as a resource in the following months.  

 

3/30/20 Update:
On March 30 OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

  • SNAP offices in all counties are not to impose the ABAWD 3-month time limit rule starting on April 1, 2020 and until otherwise instructed by OTDA.
  • SNAP recipients subject to the ABAWD time limit rule who:
    • Would have become ineligible in March due to using up their 3-months of SNAP benefits without complying with the ABAWD work requirements can continue to receive SNAP benefits through the temporary suspension of the ABAWD time limit rules.
    • Were previously determined ineligible due to not complying with the ABAWD work requirements can now reapply for SNAP benefits during the suspension of the ABAWD rules.

 

3/26/20 Update:
On March 24th, NYS OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

  • SNAP offices provide essential services and are exempt from the in-person work restrictions put in place in NYS and regardless of county-wide mandates to close county government offices.

 

3/19/20 Update:
On March 16th, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to social service districts. Highlights include:

  • SNAP benefits can be used for online grocery purchases. Current participating retailers include Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite. Amazon is available statewide; Walmart and ShopRite participate in specific zip codes. Walmart, depending on specific locations, offers delivery, pick-up or both. Clients can enter zip code on the Walmart or ShopRite websites to find availability.
  • For the duration of the COVID-19 public health crisis, at their discretion, SNAP offices can elect to raise the claims collection threshold to $500 on active SNAP cases.

WIC —updated 3/12/21

3/12/21 Update:
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 invests $12 billion to address food insecurity due to COVID-19, including $880 million in new, temporary funding to strengthen WIC services; $490 million to enhance WIC benefits for four months and $390 million in outreach, innovation, and program modernization funding.

Specifically, with the $490 million in temporary funding, state WIC Agencies can now more than triple the Cash Value Benefit (the fruit and vegetable benefit) to $35 per month for a period of four months before September 30. The funding of $390 million to USDA to strengthen outreach, innovation, and program modernization efforts will enhance the program’s ability to connect eligible families with WIC’s services and improve healthy foods redemption rates.

The American Rescue Plan also includes other provisions with positive WIC implications: $1,400 in direct cash assistance and a significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit to up to $3,600 per child under age 6; both of which are not considered income for the purposes of WIC eligibility. Additionally, there is a five-year increase to postpartum Medicaid.

 

1/20/21 Update:
HHS Renewal of Determination

On January 7, 2021, departing United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency as of January 21, 2021. The last extension was on October 2, 2020, to last through January 21, 2021. By renewing the declaration, waivers and flexibilities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will extend through at least April 21, 2021.

Last September, USDA extended approved WIC waivers for remote certifications, food substitutions, and other flexibilities through 30 days after the expiration of the public health emergency. The recent extension of the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 ensures that WIC flexibilities are now in place until at least mid-May. For New York, most notably, WIC agencies are allowed to issue benefits remotely so participants don’t have to pick up their WIC benefits in person. Participants may enroll or re-enroll in WIC without visiting a clinic in person and postpone certain medical tests. Specifically, clinics may serve participants remotely via telephone, text or videoconference, and remotely load WIC benefits onto eWIC cards.

 

9/23/20 Update:
USDA Policy Memo

FNS is extending all current waivers through the end of the pandemic for all WIC state agencies that choose to continue operations under such waivers. For New York, most notably, WIC agencies are allowed to issue benefits remotely so participants don’t have to pick up their WIC benefits in person. Participants may enroll or re-enroll in WIC without visiting a clinic in person and postpone certain medical tests.

 

5/25/20 Update:
USDA Policy Memo

NYS WIC offices remain open and are ready to serve current and new families that are pregnant, have a newborn or children less than 5 years old. Many offices are able to help you by phone, some are offering on-site appointments. Check to see if your family is eligible here. Then, use this link to find the WIC Office that is convenient for you to schedule an appointment.

 

3/23/20 Update:
Many NYS WIC offices are still able to help you by phone. On-site appointments are limited. There are no changes to your family’s “Benefits Valid Through” date. To check your WIC benefit balance, see:

  • WIC2Go, the mobile app
  • Your last store receipt
  • Your store’s customer service desk
  • Customer Service at 1844-540-3031
  • wicconnect.com

New York State WIC is not suspending any eWIC cards. Please be aware there are scams online telling families cards are being suspended. This is not true. Once a family receives their benefits, they have the 30-day date range to use those benefits.

If you have additional questions, please contact your local WIC agency.

Pandemic-EBT —updated 5/21/20

Learn more about P-EBT here.

5/21/20 Update:
New York’s Pandemic-EBT Plan Approved

NYS OTDA FAQ on Pandemic-EBT

NYS OTDA Policy Memo on COVID-19 Pandemic EBT Food Benefits

New York’s plan to distribute Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) benefits has been approved by USDA. The program will provide benefits to approximately 2.1 million children across the state who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures. P-EBT is a crisis response nutrition program, that has been activated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights from the plan include:

  • All children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals will receive Pandemic-EBT benefits, including those who attend school where all students receive free meals through the Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Pandemic-EBT does not replace or affect eligibility for other nutrition programs; families can continue receiving emergency meals distributed by schools, SNAP, WIC, summer meals and/or meals in childcare in addition to Pandemic-EBT.
  • Eligible families will receive a set amount of funds on an EBT card to purchase groceries at retailers that accept EBT Benefits. Visit fns.usda.gov/snap for more information on participating retailers and eligible food items.
  • Benefit amounts will be $5.70 per child, for each day that school is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic—equivalent to USDA’s daily reimbursement for free breakfast and lunch.
  • Families do not need to apply to receive Pandemic-EBT. Benefits will be issued automatically on existing EBT cards for households already receiving SNAP, Public Assistance or Medicaid. New cards will be mailed to all other eligible households who currently do not have an EBT card.
  • Distribution will be staggered, with families receiving benefits at different times over the next several months.

We are developing resources to help schools and community-based organizations share information with families about what to expect and how to use their Pandemic-EBT benefits. We will continue to send email updates, post updates to our website, and use Facebook and Twitter to share additional information as it becomes available.

Resources to use in your community:

SNAP client flyer: English or Spanish

Pandemic EBT

  • Information about Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

SNAP Outreach for Schools Toolkit

  • Resources to use on your website, social media, and other communications to inform families about SNAP and other available help.

WIC Outreach for Community Partners

As a statewide organization dedicated to alleviating hunger, our mission is more important than ever. We will continue to keep you updated on developments.

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