Healthy Food, Healthy Lives

Project Title

Maximizing SNAP Enrollment for Eligible New Yorkers

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Healthy Food, Healthy Lives

Date Awarded

March 10, 2023






Research shows that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation reduces food insecurity by as much as 30% and enables low-income households to afford healthy food.

More than 1.7 million New York City residents are enrolled in the program. There has been a significant increase in demand for SNAP because of rising food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, yet hungry New Yorkers are being denied timely access to benefits. Workforce shortages have delayed enrollment for thousands of potentially eligible participants. Policymakers are also considering additional budgetary cutbacks that could make the current backlog of unprocessed applications worse. Additionally, the federal government has terminated the temporary monetary boost to SNAP benefits that was put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, so SNAP participants will receive fewer benefits. Communicating with recipients about these changes will be crucial, and misunderstandings could result in further backlog. The Safety Net Project at the Urban Justice Center (SNP-UJC) represents New Yorkers experiencing problems accessing SNAP benefits, combining policy advocacy, legal services, and organizing to advance social and economic justice for low-income New Yorkers. In 2023, NYHealth awarded SNP-UJC a grant to expand its ongoing work to address barriers to SNAP access, educate participants, and maximize SNAP enrollment for eligible New Yorkers.

Under this grant, SNP-UJC raised the voices and needs of SNAP program participants. It monitored systemic problems and policy changes by using its case management systems to track new SNAP cases to understand barriers; recruited new SNAP participants to join its monthly Safety Net Activists meetings and built relationships with anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups through joint actions; and used media placements and social media to raise awareness of barriers to SNAP among policymakers, allied organizations, and the public. SNP-UJC educated SNAP participants by providing Know Your Rights flyers and other resources on how to resolve enrollment issues. It also conducted monthly outreach at SNAP offices to distribute information, learned directly about issues that participants are facing, and invited community members to join coalition meetings.