Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
February 15, 2023DOWNLOAD
At the end of February 2023, the federal government will prematurely end the temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, nearly 3 million New Yorkers will lose additional benefits as food prices continue to rise.
This new NYHealth research brief, informed by beneficiaries themselves, demonstrates just how critical SNAP and other food benefits programs are in helping food-insecure New Yorkers get the food they need to thrive. Based on the Foundation’s 1,507-person statewide Survey of Food and Health, it outlines overall participation in food and nutrition programs, details the experiences of food-insecure individuals—those who lack consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life—and recommends actions to improve food security and health.
Key findings include:
- Nearly 90% of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants and 87% of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants agree that the benefits are easy to use.
- More than one-quarter (28%) of food-insecure New Yorkers don’t participate in any food or nutrition program.
- 87% of families that participated in school meals in the last 12 months agree that the meals are helpful.
- Program participation and perceptions vary widely by race/ethnicity, geography, and health status. For example:
- Food-insecure Asian New Yorkers are only half as likely to be enrolled in SNAP as their Hispanic peers (26% compared with 52%).
- More than 80% of white food-insecure families approve of the variety of food school meals provide, compared with only 37% of Asian families, 45% of Black families, and 58% of Hispanic families.
- Suburban New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity are less likely to find WIC easy to use (69%) compared with their rural (85%) and urban (94%) peers.
- Only 60% of food-insecure New Yorkers with a chronic health condition say that food pantries offer high-quality food, compared with 88% of their peers without a chronic illness.
Policymakers in New York State can take actions to improve participation in programs like SNAP, WIC, and school meals. Specifically, government officials should:
- Make universal school meals permanent.
- Make application and recertification measures easier for SNAP and WIC participants.
- Increase outreach for and tailor programs to increase participation.
- Provide incentives for food insecurity screening and referral processes.
- Explore ways to prevent food insecurity in the summer.