Members of our WhatsApp community have consistently asked us where free food is available in New York City. We asked The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs about the services that the City provides. Here are their answers:
1. I lost my job, how can I eat for free or for low cost?
All New Yorkers can access free meals during the COVID-19 crisis. The City provides three free meals a day for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, at more than 500 meal hubs citywide. No registration or identification is required. Meal hubs are open Monday through Friday, from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Adults and children can pick up multiple meals at one time. There are vegetarian and halal options available at all sites, and kosher options are available at select sites. You can text “FOOD” to 877-877 to find a location near you or go to nyc.gov/getfood to view an interactive map of free food locations, including New York City schools and food pantries, across the city. There is no income limit to access New York City’s food pantries or community kitchens for groceries and hot meals.
2. Is there a way I can get food to take back and cook at home?
Yes! New York City has a network of more than 800 food pantries, with locations in all five boroughs. To find a location near you or go to nyc.gov/getfood to view an interactive map of free food locations, including New York City schools and food pantries, across the city. There is no income limit to access New York City’s food pantries or community kitchens for groceries and hot meals. For a list of LGBTQ+ friendly food pantries, visit https://growingupnyc.cityofnewyork.us/generationnyc/lgbtq-food-assistance/.
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3. What if I can’t leave my house?
If you cannot go out to get food, no one can bring you food, and you are not able to use private delivery options, you can get emergency meals delivered to you. Nine meals can be ordered in one delivery, or you can schedule deliveries on a recurring basis with nine meals delivered twice per week for up to four weeks. Deliveries may include pantry items, shelf stable meals, or fresh meals. New Yorkers can request Kosher, Glatt Kosher, or Halal food. Specific delivery items vary based on availability and efforts are underway to increase the variety of food options available.
4. Do I need any ID or driver license?
No registration or identification is required.
5. Will any of these benefits impact my public charge?
Visiting a food pantry, picking up a grab-and-go meal, or receiving food delivery assistance will not impact your ability to apply for a green card or citizenship. If you have questions about how accessing certain public benefits may affect immigration status, call the free, confidential ActionNYC hotline at 1-800-354-0365 for information and connections to immigration legal help.
6. If I get food coupons during the pandemic, will my public charge be impacted?
It is important to know that many immigrants are not affected by the “public charge” test. There is no public charge test when green card holders apply for citizenship. SNAP is considered a “public benefit” under the public charge rule. If you have questions about immigration and public benefits, call the free, confidential ActionNYC hotline at 800-354-0365 to access timely and trusted information and connections to legal help.
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