Nearly 75,000 low-income college students in New York will be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) according to an expansion of the program announced Friday by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
The state will also introduce a simplified application process to encourage greater enrollment for older adults and people with disabilities. This is part of a broader state effort to reduce food insecurity, the governor said.
“From community college students looking to advance their careers to fixed-income senior citizens, food insecurity and starvation are a reality for a wide variety of low-income New Yorkers and we have an obligation to help them in their need,” Cuomo said. “These measures will help a greater number of individuals and families access benefits that prevent them from facing the dire reality of food insecurity.”
Income eligible students who are at least half enrolled in the State University of New York and the City University of New York can now access the benefits.
In addition, income-entitled individuals who attend any of New York State’s 10 education centers and are enrolled at least halfway in a career and technical education program, remedial courses, adult basic education, literacy, or English as a second language will also be enrolled in this new policy . Previously, these students were not eligible for SNAP assistance unless they met certain criteria, such as at least 20 hours per week, caring for a child, or were unable to work.
This policy change adds another criterion that would allow certain college students and EOC attendees to meet the student eligibility requirements for SNAP. At SUNY, approximately 31,000 students participate in these programs and may be eligible. Approximately 42,000 students can be admitted to CUNY.
“By expanding eligibility for SNAP benefits, we are telling students that your coursework is critical and we want you to stay on track to get the required credentials,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras .
The state is also seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to file a simplified application for SNAP benefits to encourage greater enrollment among eligible elderly or disabled people. SNAP applicants with a fixed income or limited financial resources can complete a single sheet (front and back) application instead of the current nine-page form.
Approximately 70 percent of eligible seniors and disabled people are enrolled to receive benefits. The length and complexity of the forms used to apply for SNAP, according to the governor’s office, could dissuade some legitimate from seeking assistance.
At SUNY, in addition to expanding and providing access to pantries, a task force helped set up and expand innovative intervention programs on campus, including mobile food trucks, local farm crop splitting, a subsidized grocery store on campus, and programs that enable students to have a campus – “Pay” a parking ticket in the form of food donations to a pantry on campus.
“Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we continue to help an increasing number of people and families with low incomes avoid the oppressive feeling of food insecurity,” said Mike Hein, Commissioner for Temporary Disability and Assistance. “These changes will help numerous college students and senior New Yorkers qualify for SNAP and make sure they can more easily afford healthy and nutritious food.”