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Apr 12, 2023 | April Xu

New York Food: How to Apply for SNAP, Find Food Pantries, and More

A list of food benefit programs that aim to alleviate food insecurity among eligible immigrants.

Access to nutritious food is a challenge for many immigrants struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately, New York City offers a range of food benefit programs, like SNAP, to alleviate food insecurity among eligible immigrants.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The program, also known as SNAP or food stamps, helps low- and moderate-income people in New York, including working families, seniors, and people with disabilities, shop for food. Food stamp recipients use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food.

Immigrant Eligibility: Food stamp applicants must meet certain income and eligibility requirements, Among them, in terms of immigration status requirements, immigrants who are legally residing in the United States are generally eligible to apply for food stamps. Undocumented immigrants or immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for less than five years may face additional restrictions, except for certain groups such as refugees, victims of severe forms of trafficking (T visa holders), people granted asylum or withholding of deportation/removal.

How to apply:

  • Apply online at ACCESS HRA. Read the Guide to ACCESS HRA.
  • Call 718-557-1399 to request that an application form be mailed to you.
  • Pick up an application form at any HRA Center.
  • Applicants can fax applications to MARU (mail the application and referral unit) at 917-639-1111.
  • Print an application form and send it to a HRA Center.
  • If you cannot get to an HRA Center, many community organizations can process your papers on behalf of the NYC Human Resources Administration. To find a community organization in your community that provides relevant services, call 718-557-1399 or dial 311. You can also visit www.nyc.gov/dss-partners to check. 

Read this PDF document for details.

Also Read: Food Pantries Open Today in New York State

Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)

The program provides nutritional assistance to pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five years old who are at risk of malnutrition. Eligible participants will receive vouchers to spend on certain types of nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products, as well as infant formula and baby food.

Immigrant Eligibility: For all immigrants, including undocumented immigrants.

How to Apply: Everyone who applies for the benefit must apply in person at their local agency. Please call your local agency to make an appointment.

  • You can find the agency closest to you in the list of local agencies that provide WIC services.
  • Call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline at 1-800-522-5006 to find the WIC service agency closest to you.

Details can be found on this page.

School Meals

The New York City Department of Education provides free breakfast, lunch, and after-school meals to all New York City public school students during the school year.

Immigrant Eligibility: Open to all NYC public school students, regardless of immigration status.

How to Apply: Please contact your school to find out when and where you can pick up your free meals.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

This program provides healthy food packages to eligible low-income adults aged 60 and above. You or your representative can pick up your food packages at a CSFP distribution site each month. The packages include cheese, milk, rice, pasta, cereal, canned vegetables, fruit, chicken, fish, and more. During the summer, you have the extra benefit of being able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the local farmer’s market. CSFP nutritionists also provide you with cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes. Additionally, the program can connect you with health care and social service agencies. You can apply for CSFP even if you are a SNAP receipient.

Immigrant Eligibility: For all New York State immigrants over the age of 60; must meet the relevant income requirements.

How to Apply: To apply for the CSFP Program, please call a CSFP local agency provider nearest you for application information. Contact details for local agency providers are listed below:

  • New York Common Pantry
    • 788 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10455
    • 917-509-2896
    • Serving the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau/Suffolk County on Long Island (Long Island service provided by Island Harvest)
  • Kings County Hospital Center
    • 840 Alabama Avenue
    • Brooklyn, NY 11207
    • 718-498-9208
    • Serving the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn
  • Food Bank for New York City
    • 212-566-7855
    • Serving the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau/Suffolk County on Long Island (Long Island service provided by Island Harvest)

New York City residents can also call 311 and inquire about the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

Food Pantries and Community Kitchens

Many community organizations provide free food to those in need. It usually distributes non-perishable items such as canned goods, pasta, cereal, as well as fresh produce. All immigrants are eligible, including undocumented immigrants, regardless of their income. You can use the Food Help NYC map or call 311 to find the food pantry and community kitchen closest to you.

Also Read: Where New Immigrants in NYC Can Find Shelter, Legal Help, Food and More

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