Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Overview: New York Governor Kathy Hochul has introduced two new programs that will help restaurants stay afloat while also feeding families in need.
Location: New York State
Population: 19.3 million
Food policy category: Food services, food security
Program goals: To help restaurants struggling to stay profitable during the pandemic and to help feed New Yorkers in need.
How it works: The Restaurant Resiliency Program will provide $25 million in grants to emergency food providers, such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters, to purchase meals directly from participating restaurants. Restaurants interested in participating in the program must submit an application online and will need to demonstrate their ability to create meals that meet MyPlate nutritional standards, be current on licensing requirements, and pass health inspections.
Senate Bill S64 will allow homeless, disabled, and elderly New Yorkers who receive SNAP benefits to use their benefits to buy reduced-price meals from participating restaurants. SNAP benefits cannot normally be used to purchase prepared meals from stores or restaurants. The bill requires federal approval from USDA before it can go into effect.
Progress to date: Applications for the Restaurant Resiliency Program have been open since October 4. While the Senate Bill has already been signed into law by Governor Hochul, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance needs approval from USDA before the law can be implemented.
Why it is important: Many restaurants are still struggling with the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and rates of hunger and food insecurity also rose dramatically because of job losses and food shortages in 2020. In New York, approximately 13 percent of the total population and 20 percent of children are experiencing food insecurity in 2021.
Furthermore, individuals who receive SNAP but are unable to cook – including the homeless, disabled, and elderly – cannot currently receive prepared meals with SNAP benefits, which significantly limits meal options for these populations and may potentially diminish the nutritional quality of the foods they are able to eat.
The Restaurant Resiliency Program and Senate Bill S64 will support the restaurants that are still recovering from and/or struggling with pandemic-related losses while also helping to feed the many New Yorkers in need, including the most vulnerable populations.
Program/Policy initiated: The Restaurant Resiliency Program was announced on October 4, 2021, the same day that Senate Bill S64 was signed.
Point of contact:
Restaurant Resiliency Team
Phone: (518) 457-7076
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
Phone: (800) 342-3009
Similar practices: Arizona, Rhode Island, and California also participate in a SNAP Restaurant Meals Program. It is unclear whether there are other programs similar to the Restaurant Resiliency Program that encourage emergency food providers to purchase food from restaurants.
Evaluation: Evaluation for these programs has not yet been conducted.
- Assessing Food Insecurity among US Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition)
- COVID-19 and Food Insecurity: an Uneven Patchwork of Responses (Journal of Urban Health)
- Food Insecurity and Dietary Quality in Older Adults: Do Nutrition Assistance Programs Play a Protective Role? (Current Developments in Nutrition)
- This Should Be a Boom Time for Restaurants. But Owners—and the Few Workers Remaining—Are Struggling (Time)
- $25 Million Restaurant Resiliency Program Announced At BRC With ENY Restaurant Owner Andrew Walcott Speaking In Support Of Restaurants Who Suffered During COVID (EastNewYork.com)
- Back to Normal? It’s a Tall Order as New York City Restaurants Struggle. (The New York Times)
- California Restaurant Meals Program (California EBT Project Office)
- Governor Hochul Signs Legislation Helping Homeless, Disabled and Elderly SNAP Recipients to Purchase Prepared Meals (New York State Governor Kathy Hochul)
- Gov. Hochul Announces 2 New Programs Designed to Help Struggling Restaurants and Families (News 12 New Jersey)
- Gov. Hochul Signs Bill Expanding SNAP Benefits to New York Restaurants (PIX 11)
- Gov. Kathy Hochul Signed Legislation on Monday that Open Up Possibility for People to Use SNAP Benefits to Get Meals from Restaurants (NBC 2 WGRZ)
- The Impact of the Coronavirus on Local Food Insecurity in 2020 and 2021 (Feeding America)
- New NY Program Will Allow Some to Buy Restaurant Meals with Food Stamps (Syracuse.com)
- Online Purchasing & Restaurant Meals Program (State of Rhode Island Department of Human Services)
- Restaurant Meals Program (Arizona Department of Economic Security)
- Restaurant Resiliency Program (New York State)
- Senate Bill S64 (New York State Senate)