Federal Policy Priorities
Hunger Solutions New York maintains that it is a governmental responsibility to ensure that all New Yorkers can secure adequate food and nutrition. While New York’s public policy response to hunger includes a number of federal and state nutrition assistance programs, many New Yorkers still struggle with hunger – 10.5% according to USDA (USDA, 2019) – striking at the heart of New Yorkers’ health and well-being. Hunger Solutions New York regards this as an unacceptable reality and presents its public policy agenda to improve the nutrition assistance safety net.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The nation’s largest federally-funded nutrition assistance entitlement program must be protected, strengthened and streamlined to maximize its impact on hunger. New efficiencies and the provision of adequate resources will enable the program to meet the needs of struggling individuals and families and preserve SNAP’s ability to respond in times of economic downturn or disaster. We will work to protect SNAP by monitoring and responding to SNAP-related federal rule-making. Legislative and USDA administrative action can and should be taken to:
1. Maintain the core principles and integrity of SNAP:
- Keep intact the federal commitment to pay 100% of SNAP benefits.
- Ensure that states are not allowed to privatize SNAP or remove SNAP’s merit staffing requirement.
- Do not expand SNAP’s work requirements to new populations, impose stricter requirements or impose more harsh penalties.
- Ensure that fees are not imposed on retailers who accept SNAP.
2. Expand the number of people who are eligible to participate in SNAP:
- Maintain state flexibility to utilize “expanded categorical eligibility” to waive the asset test and set gross income tests.
- Prevent further restrictions to ABAWD time limit rule (i.e. prevent adding new populations, tightening requirements, or limiting state flexibility to issue waivers).
- Retain the long-standing definition of Public Charge as it relates to SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs.
- Clarify the legal definition of the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing so it will not be counted as income when determining eligibility for SNAP.
3. Maintain and increase the adequacy of benefits provided through SNAP:
- Improve the adequacy of monthly SNAP allotments by using USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan in place of the Thrifty Food Plan when calculating SNAP benefit amounts.
- Maintain minimum benefit allotments.
- Prevent the imposition of a cap on benefit allotments for larger households.
- Maintain state flexibility to provide a nominal LIHEAP benefit to the neediest low-income households, in order to maximize benefit allotments.
- Maintain state flexibility to determine and set annual Standard Utility Allowances.
- Allow all SNAP households to deduct their actual shelter costs as part of SNAP budgeting.
- Implement a Standard Medical Deduction.
- Maintain food choice for SNAP recipients, and prioritize incentives to purchase more produce.
Child Nutrition Programs
The core principles and integrity of child nutrition entitlement programs, specifically the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), should be maintained, and any effort to limit program effectiveness and resources through block-granting should be rejected. The core principles and integrity of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) should also be maintained. Through federal administrative and legislative changes, action can and should be taken to:
1. Reauthorize Child Nutrition programs
Reauthorize Child Nutrition Programs with timely and comprehensive legislation that ensures access to meal programs for all eligible children. The authorization for these federally-funded child nutrition programs expired in September 2015 and is currently being maintained through a Continuing Resolution.
School Breakfast Program:
- Protect eligible children’s access to school meals by leveraging additional opportunities to directly certify low-income children for free school meals by:
- requiring states to incorporate all categorically eligible children into current data matching systems
- extending categorical eligibility to all children in military households that receive the Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance.
- Ensure that any changes to the process of verifying eligibility do not cause eligible children to lose school meal benefits.
- Protect the Community Eligibility Provision which provides an important, administratively efficient, and accurate path to free meals for children in high-poverty schools, while also creating new opportunities to further expand universal school meals.
- Ensure that the school cafeteria is a positive environment for all students, while taking steps to reduce the accumulation of unpaid school meal debt.
- Protect and maintain the school nutrition standards in SBP and NSLP in reauthorization, while also increasing the SBP and NSLP reimbursement rates for meals served to align with new meal pattern regulations.
Child and Adult Care Food Program
- Streamline eligibility and administration to improve program access:
- Expand At-Risk Afterschool Snack/Supper component and Tier 1 daycare home area eligibility by reducing the threshold from 50% to 40% of children qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals, in alignment with the Department of Education’s Title 1 and 21st Century Community Learning Center programs.
- Extend area eligibility to child care centers in CACFP.
- Establish a “provision 2” option that would align CACFP with NSLP, streamlining paperwork for parents, programs and sponsors, and enabling use of efficient technology.
- Allow annual eligibility for proprietary centers.
- Reauthorize a paperwork reduction workgroup.
- Maximize program effectiveness:
- Ensure the CACFP reimbursement rates for meals and snacks served align with new meal patterns that strengthen the nutritional quality of meals and snacks.
- Restore CACFP child care centers’ and homes’ option to serve a third meal to children in their care for 8 hours or more.
Summer Food Service Program:
- Streamline eligibility and administration to improve program access:
- Expand SFSP area eligibility by reducing the threshold from 50% to 40% of children qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals, in alignment with the Department of Education’s Title 1 and 21st Century Community Learning Center programs.
- Allow sponsors to serve meals and snacks after school and during weekends and breaks throughout the regular school year through SFSP.
- Maximize program effectiveness by:
- Increasing flexibility and supporting options to provide nutrition to children with limited access to congregate feeding models outside of school.
- Establishing a national Summer EBT program.
- Providing funding for start-up grants for mobile meals and other innovative strategies for rural and other hard-to-reach communities.
- Giving funding priority for federal grants to programs that sponsor/operate all eligible child nutrition programs.
- Allowing all SFSP sites the option of serving a third meal.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Extend enrollment for children until their sixth birthday
- Extend certification periods for infant and postpartum women to two years.
- Ensure access to WIC for all eligible families
- Support efforts to streamline and modernize WIC services through technology.
- Expand WIC research on underserved communities.
- Protect and preserve the scientific integrity of the WIC food package.
- Support WIC’s electronic benefit service delivery.