When her Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits were dramatically reduced last winter, “Meiying” couldn’t understand why. A Chinese immigrant living in Queens, she relies on SNAP to help stretch her food budget. The benefit reduction left the senior citizen struggling to afford enough food to live on.

“She was very frustrated because, first of all, she had a language barrier. She didn’t know where to go. She was living by herself. Her son passed away about seven or eight years ago,” explained Yuanjing Lin, Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) Coordinator at the Food Bank for New York City. NOEP Coordinators provide free, confidential one-on-one SNAP application assistance, including translation services.

Meiying came to Lin looking for help. He performed a SNAP prescreening and found certain expenses were not reported correctly on her previous SNAP application. Once her information was updated, she became eligible to receive more than $150 in additional benefits monthly.

She brought Lin a Christmas card to show her appreciation.

“It was written in Chinese characters, but personally, I can read it,” Lin recounted. “It said she is lonely and her son has passed away and she feels helpless. But because of our help, she feels that she has a face to life and she said that was the best Christmas present for her.”

The NOEP Program, managed by Hunger Solutions New York, is one of the largest SNAP outreach programs in the nation, serving nearly every county in New York State and all boroughs of New York City. NOEP offers community-based outreach, education and SNAP application assistance to eligible New Yorkers.

NOTE: The name of the SNAP recipient in this story was changed to respect her privacy.