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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. As more schools, child care centers, and older adult meal sites close, additional families will lose access to the federal nutrition and food programs that improve their nutrition, health, and well-being.

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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SNAP —updated 9/14/20

9/14/20 Update:
COVID-19 Emergency Allotments to Families/Individuals Receiving SNAP in September

Emergency Allotments (EA) for SNAP recipients were authorized by Congress under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) previously approved NYS’s plan to distribute EA of SNAP benefits in March, April, May, June, July, and August. FNS recently approved NYS’s request to provide EA for SNAP recipients in the month of September.

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

This Consumer FAQ explains who will receive the September EA supplement benefit and what SNAP clients should know about this supplement SNAP benefit.

Issuance Schedule for September 2020 EA supplemental SNAP benefits:

  • In NYC: issuance based on case toe-digit, from 9/16 through 9/18 and from 9/21 through 9/25 and on 9/28 and 9/29.
  • Rest of State: issuance based on each districts caseload which will be divided randomly, from 9/15 through 9/18 and from 9/22 through 9/25.
    • For upstate households the SNAP EA benefits will be available to eligible families the day after they are issued per the schedule above.

Other Important details:

  • Only households that receive less than the maximum SNAP benefits for their household size in September are eligible for the September EA supplement SNAP benefit. See the chart in the FAQ for maximum monthly benefits by household size.
  • The September 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 September eligible for the EA supplement: additional issuances will be run to catch those cases that did not receive the September EA supplement in the original issuances listed above.
  • Families and individuals who get SNAP and who are eligible to receive the September 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.
  • The September EA SNAP supplement does 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.

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.

 

6/5/20 Update:
On May 29, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to social services districts. Highlights include:
Interview at Initial Application and Recertification

  • The interview and recertification waivers have been extended through June 30, 2020. See full details of the waivers in our 4/3/20 and 3/31/30 updates 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.

 

5/1/20 Update:
On April 29, the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

SNAP Treatment of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional $600 in federally funded dollars per week for all Unemployment Insurance recipients.

SNAP budgeting rules count Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) as unearned income. The CARES Act also included Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is a federal program for people who are unable to work due to the pandemic, but who are not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. Anyone receiving UIB or PUA will also receive additional FPUC payments of $600 a week until July 31, 2020.

Treatment as Income:

  • UIB/PUA/FPUC payments COUNT as unearned income for SNAP.
  • SNAP offices should add the FPUC payment to a SNAP recipients unemployment insurance benefit (UIB/PUA) and budget this as one income source for each household member receiving unemployment insurance.
  • Retroactive lump sum UIB/PUA/FPUC payments are NOT COUNTED as income for SNAP.
  • SNAP offices are required to remove the FPCU payment from the SNAP budget once it is no longer being received by the SNAP recipient.

Treatment as a Resource:

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 SNAP recipients receiving retroactive lump sum UIB/PUA/FPUC payments these payments count as a resource in the month they are received.

SNAP offices are directed to provide timely notification to SNAP recipients on all case actions taken due to FPUC payments.

 

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.

 

4/3/20 Update:
On April 3, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

New Applications Eligible for Expedited Processing
The following applies through June 30, 2020:

  • 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 in the 3/31 SNAP update) prior to receiving the ongoing SNAP benefits.

 

3/31/20 Update:
On March 31, OTDA issued a notice on COVID-19 to local social service districts. Highlights include:

Interview at Initial Application and Recertification

  • SNAP offices are not required to interview a household at initial application or recertification through June 30, 2020 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.
    • 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 cannot be verified through separate verified-upon-receipt data matches.

Mandatory Verification

The following is a list of mandatory eligibility factors which must be provided when applying or recertifying for SNAP:

  1. Identity
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Residency
  4. Gross non-exempt income (earned and unearned)
  5. Disability
  6. Immigration Status (also referred to as Alien Status by OTDA)

 

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.

Summer Meals Programs —updated 9/1/20

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

School Meals —updated 8/26/20

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.

Public Charge Rule —updated 8/11/20

8/11/20 Update:
New injunctions allow immigrant communities across the U.S. to safely access critical food assistance, health care and other public benefits during the COVID-19 health crisis.

On July 29th, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a new temporary injunction against the DHS Public Charge rule. The order bars the implementation, application, and enforcement of the Public Charge rule nationwide for as long as there is a declared national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Yorkers who have questions about the new rule and whether it applies to them should contact the Office for New Americans hotline at 1-800-566-7636 to receive more information.

Stay tuned for more updates and resources.

For more information see Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Resources:

Topline Messages

On July 29, a federal court issued orders blocking implementation of the administration’s “public charge” wealth test for people applying for a green card. We ask immigrant families to get the facts — with the right information, you can make the best choice for your family. Here are the facts on public charge:

  • The public charge policy (started in Feb. 2020) remains blocked as long as the court orders are in place. The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it will not apply its new public charge rules to applications processed while the order is in effect. Another order blocks the State Department from applying its new public charge rules to applications processed outside the U.S.
  • Nobody knows how long the court orders will remain in effect. The administration could try to appeal the ruling. Either way, officials and advocates challenging the policy remain committed to the fight. And they’re pushing Congress to reverse the policy permanently.
  • Public charge does not apply to all immigrants. To learn more about who is affected by the rule, visit our Public Charge page.
  • Many federally-funded health and nutrition programs are NOT included in the public charge test. For more information visit our Public Charge page.
  • A child’s or other family member’s use of public benefits will not be weighed in the parent’s (or family member’s) public charge decision. There is no benefit to dis-enrolling U.S. citizens or other eligible family members from health and nutrition programs.

For more information, visit www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org and learn more about how to keep our communities healthy and strong.

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.

CACFP —updated 5/15/20

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

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.

WIC —updated 5/25/20

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.

Resources to use in your community:

SNAP client flyer: English or Spanish

Pandemic EBT

  • Information about Pandemic EBT, and an outreach toolkit to use in your community.

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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