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Integrated Eligibility System (IES): New York State’s IES should ensure “No Wrong Door” to facilitate access to nutrition assistance programs for low-income residents, including systems integrations that allow secure sharing of application information among agencies to determine eligibility for all means-tested programs. IES should ensure seamless application and benefit utilization experience. Include advocates and stakeholders in planning and implementation.

Anti-hunger Prioritization and Programming

  • Engage the public health and medical community to promote food access and nutrition as an essential component of a healthy life:
    • Increase health care provider screening for food insecurity among low-income, vulnerable populations.
    • Teach professionals to identify hunger by incorporating training into curricula to recognize signs and symptoms of hunger.
    • Use New York’s 2019-2024 Prevention Agenda’s food security goal area to promote interventions, local collaborations, policies, and programs for the public health and healthcare systems to address food insecurity as a factor in adverse health outcomes.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Improve and expand state-level outreach and education efforts:
    • Increase funding for the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program by $2M so that it can serve all New York State counties and provide additional services in high-need counties.
    • Increase outreach and education to vulnerable populations with low participation, including priority areas identified by USDA.
      • Advance racial equity in SNAP in NYS by assessing existing racial disparities in SNAP participation and reducing barriers to participation by underserved populations in the state.
      • Continue work with SUNY and CUNY to ensure that all low-income students have access to SNAP in NYS.
      • Develop relationships with New York State Division of Veterans’ Services and other local veteran service organizations to help connect veterans to SNAP in NYS.
      • Ensure that Immigrant communities and mixed status families understand the changes to the public charge rule and current eligibility rules for this population.
    • Utilize the state’s Medicaid system as a cross-referral mechanism:
      • Establish a statewide process to do data matching between Medicaid and SNAP cases to increase participation in SNAP for eligible households.
      • Create linkages between Medicaid and SNAP databases to conduct “in-reach” with Medicaid recipients who are currently not receiving SNAP.
    • Ensure outreach, education and application assistance through health homes, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and other healthcare practices that serve a large percentage of low-income patients.
  • Streamline/simplify program:
    • End mandatory enforcement of SNAP Employment and Training programs in all counties that are still using this model.
    • Adopt uniform SNAP rules and ensure their consistent implementation across the state.
    • Adopt a standard excess medical deduction.
    • Establish a seamless inter-county transfer process for SNAP recipients who move between counties that would maintain eligibility, ensure continuation of benefits and reduce administrative burdens.
    • Establish a 24-month certification period for kinship non-parent caregiver households.
    • Replicate HRA’s Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) upstate so that people 55 and older and those with disabilities have access to an automated phone system to complete their recertification process and align with myBenefits and interview systems in upstate counties, including:
      • Ability for those transitioning from NYSNIP to NYSCAP to report their shelter type, shelter amount and SUA level on the IVRS thereby reducing document return and potentially increasing benefit levels for these populations.\
      • Ability to automatically mail the simplified application/recertification form (LDSS-5166) when requested.
  • Increase access to SNAP by eligible people:
    • Take maximum advantage of federal ABAWD waivers, grant exceptions and exemptions, and provide ABAWD individuals with timely, consistent, understandable instructions on compliance.
    • Monitor the rollout of ESAP in NYS
    • Improve SNAP access for individuals leaving prison and re-entering society.
    • Monitor the combined application project (NYSCAP) which will use individualized budgets for people on SSI and living alone when automatically enrolling them in SNAP.
  • Maintain and increase the adequacy of benefits, and incentivize healthy eating, through SNAP:
    • Monitor implementation of Restaurant Meals Program, ensuring healthy options for target population, and adequate availability of locations throughout counties in NYS.
    • Maintain food choice for SNAP recipients. Support public campaigns that promote healthy eating, including increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and decreased consumptions of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB).
    • Increase accessibility to a variety of healthy food for SNAP recipients by reducing food deserts (funded through mechanisms such as a tax on SSB).
    • Monitor the expansion of SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, ensuring the inclusion of smaller local grocers and farmers markets; while making sure online purchasing is available throughout the state.
    • Continue and expand incentive programs to increase buying power for fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and extend these initiatives to include fresh, canned and frozen produce as well as lightly processed food at other types of SNAP retailers.
  • Take advantage of all USDA SNAP program flexibility and waivers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn:
    • Continue providing Emergency Allotments (EA’s) of SNAP benefits as long as there is a federal pandemic emergency declaration in place.
    • Extend existing SNAP flexibilities for interview adjustments to all counties in NYS as long as the federal pandemic emergency declaration is in place. (as allowed by USDA).
    • Ensure that NYS utilizes the ARPA Administrative SNAP funding in years 2 and 3 for SNAP access related initiatives and projects as intended by congressional intent and USDA guidance.

School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP)

  • Expand student access to free school meals:
    • Extend free universal school meals to all children statewide.
    • In absence of a statewide universal school meal program. expand universal school meals by maximizing the use of Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) throughout NYS:
      • Provide state supplemental funding to all schools eligible for CEP who do not receive 100% federal free reimbursement rate for all meals served. State funding should fill the gap in CEP reimbursement to ensure all high-poverty schools are fully-funded, and therefore able to implement CEP.
    • Remove state-level barriers to CEP adoption:
      • Provide guidance to schools on CEP implementation and its potential impact on state aid and state foundation funding.
      • Hold CEP schools harmless from changes to state aid formula as a result of operating a universal school meal program.
  • Streamline/Simplify program:
    • Improve New York State’s direct certification process:
      • Include all the federally allowable categories to be included in the state’s electronic Direct Certification Matching Process (DCMP)
      • Ensure NY State Education Department (NYSED) monitors implementation and continues to make improvements to data matching algorithms within the state’s DCMP.
      • Coordinate within NYSED to improve student databases for purposes of strengthening access to school meal programs.
  • Protect state investments:
    • Protect and expand current school breakfast state laws to ensure Breakfast After the Bell programming for all children in all required schools.
    • Protect and maintain the current Farm to School 30% NYS Incentive Program to ensure access to fresh, local New York State products through the federal school meal programs.
    • Protect and maintain all current state reimbursement investments in the SBP and the NSLP.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Deliver Pandemic-EBT benefits to all eligible children through a timely, streamlined benefit delivery process enhanced with robust public education.
    • Ensure continued access to school meals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Maintain public resources of meal access sites for the duration of the public health crisis to ensure parents can access meals provided by schools and community-based organizations in the closest community

Out-of-School-Time Meal Programs

  • Improve and expand state-level outreach and education efforts:
    • Coordinate and cross-promote SFSP and CACFP, including by posting information and resources on both state agency websites, and by developing a user-friendly system to connect sites with sponsors in both programs.
    • Strengthen linkages between NYS Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) and DOH/CACFP databases to conduct regular outreach to registered school-age child care providers who are not participating in CACFP.
    • Create linkages with NYSED and DOH/CACFP databases to conduct regular outreach to summer meal sponsors and school districts that are not participating in CACFP, including SFAs that currently provide afterschool snacks through NSLP.
    • Increase outreach, education, application, and claiming assistance to CACFP providers throughout the application process and beyond.
      • Ensure NYS Department of Health (DOH) regularly assesses, revises if needed, and reports on use of the online CACFP prescreening tool for potential providers.
      • Provide user-friendly supplementary guidance and assistance to help afterschool program providers understand school-age child care registration requirements as they pertain to CACFP.
      • Provide recorded online training opportunities for potential and new sponsors.
  • Streamline program applications and administration:
    • Implement allowable USDA CACFP paperwork reduction recommendations when applicable to NYS, including:
      • Eliminating state-specific documentation and recordkeeping requirements that are not required by federal regulation.
      • Allowing SFAs to apply for CACFP using their NSLP application with an addendum for additional information required for CACFP.
    • Ease SFSP and CACFP administration and operation for sponsors and sites by integrating the use of more technology to increase capacity.
  • Maximize program access:
    • Require school districts with eligible schools in underserved communities to provide summer meals as a sponsor or vendor for a minimum of 30 days, with increased administrative support from the regulatory agency.
    • Require eligible schools hosting space for afterschool enrichment programs or providing extended learning days to provide access to CACFP’s At-Risk Afterschool Snack/Supper Program and/or NSLP snacks.
    • Require schools and community-based organizations receiving afterschool program grants administered through OCFS (Advantage After School, Empire State, and Youth Development Program) or NYSED (21st Century Community Learning Centers, Extended School Day/School Violence Prevention) to ensure program participants have access to afterschool nutrition through CACFP’s At-Risk Afterschool Snack/Supper Program or NSLP snacks, with encouragement to serve complete meals through CACFP where eligible.
    • Implement and/or promote use of model CACFP practices that increase participation and retention, such as:
      • Offering alternative meal service models such as the umbrella model, meals in the classroom, and campus model.
      • Maximizing current sponsor capacity (for both affiliated and unaffiliated sites).
      • Providing guidance specific to school food authorities to show flexibility in the sponsor application process for these entities.
  • Protect and strengthen state investments:
    • Maintain all current state reimbursement investments in the SFSP.
    • Provide supplemental reimbursement and/or funding incentives for summer meal sponsors to:
      • Include enrichment activities in their meal service.
      • Provide transportation to underserved areas.
      • Increase the amount of NYS-grown fruit and vegetables on the menu.
      • Expand their service reach in terms of meal types served, average daily participation, and days of service.
    • Provide supplemental reimbursement to CACFP providers in recognition of food and administrative costs to provide the program in NYS.
    • Maintain current state funding for CACFP outreach.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Implement all available waivers and flexibilities to ensure access to and viability of CACFP during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
    • In the absence of nationwide waivers for additional needed flexibilities, apply for statewide waivers.

Child Care Meal Programs

  • Improve and expand state-level CACFP outreach and education efforts:
    • Increase outreach, education, application, and claiming assistance to providers throughout the application process and beyond.
    • Ensure NYS Department of Health (DOH) regularly assesses, revises if needed, and reports on use of the online CACFP prescreening tool for potential providers.
    • Strengthen linkages between NYS Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) and DOH/CACFP databases to conduct regular outreach to licensed and legally exempt child care providers who are not participating in CACFP.
    • Provide recorded online training opportunities for potential and new sponsors.
  • Streamline CACFP application and administration:
    • Implement allowable USDA CACFP paperwork reduction recommendations when applicable to NYS, including eliminating state-specific documentation and record keeping requirements that are not required by federal regulation.
    • Improve the CACFP Information and Payment System to mitigate providers’ and sponsors’ reliance on external software to streamline paperwork.
  • Protect and strengthen state investments:
    • Provide supplemental reimbursement to CACFP providers in recognition of food and administrative costs to provide the program in NYS.
    • Maintain current state funding for CACFP outreach.
  • As part of the COVID-19 response:
    • Implement all available waivers and flexibilities to ensure access to and viability of CACFP during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
    • In the absence of nationwide waivers for additional needed flexibilities, apply for statewide waivers.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

  • Maximize participation and retention among eligible New Yorkers:
    • Align program with the NYS First 1000 Days initiative to extent possible.
    • Create effective automatic referral system with other programs/agencies serving potentially eligible families, including Medicaid, SNAP, Early Head Start and Head Start.
    • Maintain comprehensive statewide outreach plan.
    • Improve online tools to facilitate prescreening and application, especially among non-English readers.
    • Accelerate ability to use WIC EBT for online ordering and payment, and for touch-free pick-up and self-checkout.
    • Include WIC in state emergency and disaster planning.
  • Ensure consistent communication and policy guidance from regional offices to local agencies.
  • Support efforts to use technology for applications, appointment scheduling, and ongoing participant requirements, ideally integrated into state management information systems.

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