New York State Policy Priorities
In support of New York State’s anti-hunger agenda, NYS should ensure “No Wrong Door” policies among all nutrition assistance programs and between those programs and other low-income programs, including the creation of systemic connections that allow secure sharing of application information among agencies to determine eligibility for all means-tested programs. The following administrative and legislative changes are recommended to maximize the number of eligible low-income New Yorkers receiving federal nutrition benefits:
Anti-hunger Prioritization and Programming
Engage the health and medical community to promote nutrition as an essential component of a healthy life:
- Increase 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 and new 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)
In recent years, New York State has taken many positive steps towards maximizing access to, and participation in SNAP. Additional opportunities are available for the state to reduce hunger by increasing the number of eligible people who receive SNAP benefits through simplifying the application process, creating more efficiency across the state, and improving state-based outreach and education efforts. To this end, New York State should:
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.
- 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.
- Adopt uniform rules and ensure uniform enforcement of SNAP across the state.
- Adopt a standard excess medical deduction.
- Simplify the reporting requirements for six- month reporters by removing the periodic reporting requirement.
- 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.
Increase access to SNAP for eligible people:
- Allow college students enrolled in a certificate or degree program that is considered a career or technical education program to qualify for SNAP.
- Take maximum advantage of federal ABAWD waivers, grant exceptions and exemptions, and provide ABAWD individuals with timely, consistent, understandable instructions on compliance.
- Develop an Elderly Simplified Application Project 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:
- 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).
- 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.
Child Nutrition Programs
New York State should pursue existing opportunities to improve the administration and delivery of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Through a combination of administrative and legislative changes, we recommended these actions to increase the number of low-income children receiving federally-funded, free, or reduced-price meals through these programs:
School Breakfast Program:
- Improve upon current school breakfast state law in the following ways:
- Require all schools in which 40% or more students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch to participate in the SBP.
- Require all schools with 60% or more students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals to offer breakfast at no cost to all students, and a Breakfast after the Bell program with all-student access.
- Allocate funding each year to cover implementation costs in schools newly required to implement, or voluntarily implementing, Breakfast After the Bell service models.
- Increase the eligibility threshold for free and reduced-price meals to 200% FPL.
- Establish model state-level policy to ensure local school district wellness policies prioritize maximizing the federal Child Nutrition Programs, as proposed by the Wellness, Equity & Learning Legislation (WELL) campaign
- Maximize use of Community Eligibility Provision:
- Increase number of eligible schools implementing CEP to expand school breakfast and lunch participation.
- 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.
- Incentivize all CEP schools to offer an after-the-bell breakfast program with all-student access.
- Ensure NY State Education Department (NYSED) monitors implementation and continues to make improvements to data matching algorithms within the state level Direct Certification Matching Process.
Child and Adult Care Food Program
- Improve and expand state-level 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 online CACFP prescreening tool for potential providers.
- Strengthen linkages between Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) and DOH/CACFP databases to conduct “in-reach” with OCFS providers who are not participating in CACFP.
- Create linkages with NYSED and DOH/CACFP databases to conduct “in-reach” with summer meals sponsors and districts that provide afterschool snacks through NSLP.
- Provide supplementary guidance on School Age Child Care (SACC) registration requirements to better prepare afterschool programs seeking to apply for CACFP.
- Streamline CACFP application and administration by implementing allowable USDA paperwork reduction recommendations when applicable to NYS.
- 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, at a minimum, prescreen for eligibility for CACFP’s At-Risk Afterschool Snack/Supper Program; encourage eligible programs to apply for CACFP.
- Provide supplemental reimbursement to current and eligible CACFP providers in recognition of food and administrative costs to provide the program in NYS.
- Implement and/or promote use of model practices from other states 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 recorded online training opportunities for potential and new sponsors.
- Providing guidance specific to school food authorities to show flexibility in sponsor application process for these entities.
- Improve the CACFP Information and Payment System to mitigate providers’ and sponsors’ reliance on external software to streamline paperwork, and to allow claiming of breakfast under the At-Risk Afterschool Snack/Supper component for programs operating on weekends and/or breaks throughout the regular school year.
Summer Food Service Program:
- Require school districts with eligible schools in underserved communities to provide meals to sites, as a sponsor or vendor, for a minimum of 30 days, with increased administrative support from the regulatory agency.
- Develop a system to promote and connect sites with sponsors in both SFSP and CACFP, including posting information and resources on both agency websites; coordinate, cross promote and cross train on both programs.
- Provide supplemental reimbursement for sponsors who include enrichment activities in their meal service and/or provide transportation to underserved areas.
- Create new funding sources to increase the amount of NYS-grown fruit and vegetables on the menu.
- Create incentive funding sources to encourage sponsors in good standing to expand their service reach in terms of meal types served, average daily participation, and days of service in underserved areas, weeks of summer and/or school holidays.
- Ease program administration and operation for sponsors and sites by integrating the use of more technology to increase capacity.