New NY program will allow some to buy restaurant meals with food stamps

Filling a takeout order, Gus Paliouras, left, owner of New York Lunch, hands a bag of food to Lakeisha Couch, center, and Dez-Ray Confer, right, both of Erie, on Aug. 4. Courtesy of Tribune News Service

New York — Certain people who get food stamps will be able to use them to buy restaurant meals thanks to a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The program still requires federal approval, but the plan is to allow homeless, elderly and disabled food stamp recipients to use their benefits to buy hot or prepared foods from restaurants and delis that participate in the program. Prices would be reduced for the food stamp recipients.

The bill was passed earlier by the Legislature.

Before the new program, people who receive food stamps, also known as SNAP benefits, were not allowed to use them to buy prepared items, according to Hochul’s office. That prevented some people who can’t cook or prepare foods on their own from using their benefits.

Most of those affected are homeless, disabled or elderly, Hochul’s office said.

Also Monday, Hochul announced the launch of a new $25 million program to help restaurants, many of which she said continue to struggle thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. The new program will give funding to food banks and other emergency food providers that they can use to buy prepared meals from New York restaurants.

The food banks will then deliver the meals to people in need.

The Food Bank of Central New York is getting over $2.2 million through the program, which passed as part of the state budget. The food bank will work directly with restaurants deemed eligible to participate by the state.

Participating restaurants will have to create meals that align with federal nutrition and diet standards, be up to date on licensing requirements and pass all health inspections.

More information on the program and an application for restaurants can be found online at agriculture.ny.gov/restaurantresiliency.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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