There is a lot of disinformation about the food stamps program (SNAP) in New York. Myths about the program reach more people than food stamps facts. This has created a stigma around this important program that provides access to nutrition for more than 2.8 million people in New York.

This is frustrating for people on food stamps, who have to watch as a picture is painted of who they are and how they live that is largely based on myths and not facts.

In this post, we provide 12 facts about SNAP benefits in the state of New York. See details below.

"12 Facts about New York Food Stamps"

12 Facts about New York Food Stamps

Below are the 12 facts about SNAP benefits in New York you may not know about:

What are food stamps called in New York?

Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the New York State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for the food stamp program, issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to purchase eligible food items at approved grocery stores, farmers markets, and online retailers.

In the state of New York, the SNAP program is managed by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

How many New Yorkers use food stamps?

As of July 2021, there were nearly 2.8 million SNAP recipients throughout the state, a 1.8 percent increase from July 2020.

In New York City, there are 1.6 million people on SNAP as of October 2021 (about 992,000 households). The table below breaks down the numbers by borough.

IndividualsHouseholds
New York City1,688,738992,387
BOROUGHS
Bronx236,108161,246
Brooklyn477,905269,609
Manhattan588,099331,163
Queens320,130193,158
Staten Island66,49637,211

Food Stamps Helps the Local Economy

According to Moody’s Analytics, it is estimated that every $1 of food stamp spending creates about $1.70 in economic activity in the local economy.

This is more than the benefit the economy derives from tax cuts or boosting defense spending.

Additionally, retailers like Walmart would lose a big part of their sales if SNAP benefits were eliminated since it accepts food-stamp payments at its grocery stores.

How long will the extra food stamps last in NY?

In New York City, Extra Allotment benefits will be issued for as long as the COVID-19 emergency declaration is still in effect in New York state.

SNAP households already receiving the maximum monthly benefit, and those that had been receiving an emergency allotment of less than $95 per month, will receive a minimum supplement of $95.

College Students in New York are eligible for SNAP

Low-income students between the ages of 18 and 49 who are enrolled at least half-time in higher education may be eligible if they meet any of the following requirements:

  • Qualify to participate in a work-study
  • Have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0
  • Attend a SUNY/CUNY community college, comprehensive college, or technical college and are enrolled in a career and technical education (CTE) program
  • Attend an Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) and are enrolled in a career and technical education (CTE) program, remedial courses, basic adult education, literacy, or English as a second language
  • Can meet other SNAP rules

Food Stamps Can Be Used at Farmers Markets

Since 2008, states have been working to make it easier to use SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets and other retail establishments that sell fresh, healthy foods.

New York is no exception. In fact, there are about 300 farmers’ markets across the state of New York that accept SNAP EBT benefits.

In New York City alone, there are over 139 such farmers’ markets that take SNAP EBT.

Additionally, with NYC’s Healthy Bucks program,  you can get $2 in Health Bucks coupons for every $2 of SNAP EBT spending you make, up to a daily maximum.

Since 2005, Health Bucks have been used to purchase more than $6 million worth of fresh fruits and vegetables.

How much are food stamps in New York?

The dollar amount of Food Stamps benefits a household receives depends on the number of people in the household income.

It is based on a table determined by the USDA.

Below is the table showing how much food stamps you could receive if you are approved for benefits. The table is based on the number of people in a household.

Maximum benefits per household assume zero household income.

Household SizeMaximum SNAP Benefit 
1$250
2$459
3$658
4$835
5$992
6$1,190
7$1,316
8$1,504
Each additional member(+$188)

To Get New York Food Stamps, You Must be Poor

In order to receive food stamps in New York, you must be poor and you have to prove it.

To be eligible for food stamps your social security number is run through a number of government databases and you have to provide documents of your income and all your expenses.

Federal rules state that you can only be eligible for food stamps if your gross income (before taxes or deductions) is below 130% of federal poverty level guidelines.

Additionally, under the federal policy of “categorical eligibility,” states can opt into higher income guidelines under certain circumstances, and more than 40 states do.

In New York, gross income can be up to 150% of the official poverty level for households with earned income, and 200% if a household member is elderly or disabled.

Who Cannot Get Food Stamps?

Some people aren’t eligible for food stamps regardless of income, such as:

  • All undocumented immigrants
  • Certain legal immigrants, and
  • Individuals who are on strike.

As you can see above, undocumented immigrants cannot get most state and federal public benefits, including SNAP.

However, these benefits are still available to their citizen children.

For example, if you are an undocumented immigrant, you are not eligible for Food Stamps, but you can apply for Food Stamps for your citizen children.

Also, in general, only U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or immigrants with a qualified alien (also known as
qualified immigrant) status can qualify for federal, state, and city benefits.

A qualified immigrant is one of the following

  • Lawful Permanent Resident (Permanent Resident Alien or Green Card Holder)
  • Lawfully residing active duty service member or honorably discharged veteran and their families
  • Refugee
  • Asylee
  • Immigrant whose deportation or removal is being withheld
  • Cuban or Haitian entrant
  • Amerasians
  • Trafficked immigrant (T visa holders)
  • Immigrant granted parole in the United States (for at least one year)
  • Battered immigrant spouses and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents

SNAP Benefits Can Only be Used to Purchase Food

Food stamps are no longer allocated through paper coupons.

Instead, they are distributed through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which streamlines administration and reduces stigma.

If you are approved for Food Stamps in New York, your monthly benefits will be deposited on a New York EBT Card (see below), which works like a debit card.

"New York CBIC Card"

EBT Card in New York is also called Common Benefit Identification Card (CBIC).

While the EBT card is similar in appearance to a debit card, there are clear restrictions on which items can be purchased with SNAP benefits.

You cannot use a Food Stamps EBT card to purchase the following:

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Liquor
  • Cigarettes or tobacco
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Any nonfood items, (e.g. pet foods, soaps, paper products, and household supplies)
  • Prepared hot foods.
  • Pay for Travel

Some EBT Cards Can be Used for Non-Food Items

While SNAP (food stamps) benefits cannot be used to purchase any nonfood items, the EBT card has been programmed in many states to also include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and other cash assistance.

Unlike SNAP, Cash Assistance EBT may be used to pay for non-food expenses, such as diapers, gasoline, heating and utility bills, as well as household items such as toiletries and cleaning products.

In some grocery stores, at check out, users simply choose EBT-food (for SNAP) or EBT-cash (for TANF) options at the point of purchase.

This has sometimes resulted in misperceptions among observers in grocery and other types of stores, who may misinterpret the nonfood purchases with TANF benefits as a misuse of SNAP benefits.

Can New York SNAP be Used to Eat at Restaurants?

The Food Stamps program or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) only allows you to use your EBT card to purchase food for preparation at home.

However, federal law permits states to allow certain SNAP beneficiaries to use their EBT cards to purchase food at approved restaurants.

The program is called the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)

RMP allows individuals who are homeless, elderly (age 60 or over), or disabled, and their spouse, to use their SNAP benefits to purchase prepared meals at authorized restaurants.

In May 2021, the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would establish a statewide Restaurant Meals Program as part of the SNAP program.

New York, therefore, joins California, Maryland, Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, and Rhode Island that have robust RMP programs.

Are Food stamps considered welfare?

No. The Food Stamp Program is a nutrition assistance program. It helps low-income people buy nutritious foods. It is not welfare.

The food stamp program is not full of waste, fraud, and abuse

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees SNAP, takes food stamp fraud seriously.

According to USDA data, over 99 percent of those receiving SNAP benefits are eligible.

Additionally, food stamps fraud had been steadily declining, including SNAP trafficking – people who sell food stamps for cash.

The current fraud rate for the program is 1%, which means SNAP benefits abuse amounted to roughly half a million dollars in 2019.

That’s a drop in the bucket compared with the $125 billion the U.S. Department of Defense is wasting at last count, or the $334 billion it lost to contractor fraud between 2013-2017.

12 Facts about New York Food Stamps Summary

We hope this post on 12 Facts about New York Food Stamps was helpful to you!

If you have more questions about your New York EBT or SNAP Benefits, please let us know in the comments section below.

For more help on what and where you can use your New York EBT Card, check out our other articles here:
What Fast Food Restaurants Take EBT in New York?
How to Use New York EBT Online at Amazon
Get Free Admissions with New York EBT Card
How to Get a Free Phone With New York Food Stamps
New York to see 25% Increase in SNAP Benefits
New York EBT Deposit Dates for 2021
Rochester SNAP Eligibility Guide

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