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How the federal government shutdown is still affecting New Yorkers’ food security

February 8, 2019

A new report examines how the recent federal government shutdown affected New York City’s emergency food network. The Food Bank For New York City put out the new report, which found that a residual “SNAP Gap” could leave many New Yorkers hungry because they ended up receiving their food benefits early in recent weeks. “While the government shutdown may be over, the worst is yet to come,” Margarette Purvis, president & CEO of the nonprofit, said in a Feb. 5 press release. “The significant lapse between SNAP disbursements presents an unanticipated financial hurdle and disruption for those already dealing with food insecurity and will place additional strain on emergency food providers across the five boroughs.”

Here are a few takeaways from the report, taken more or less verbatim from the press release:

  • About 1.6 million low-income New Yorkers who rely on SNAP received their February benefits early, in mid-January.
  • Current average SNAP benefits cover about two weeks’ worth of food for most households.
  • Early SNAP disbursement will result in a “SNAP Gap” for recipients who have to stretch this early disbursement over a much longer four- to six-week time period.
  • For every one furloughed federal New Yorker, there are 90 SNAP recipients who will be impacted by the “SNAP Gap” in New York City.
  • One month of SNAP benefits provides more meals to New Yorkers than Food Bank’s entire annual food distribution.
  • In the Bronx, one in three residents relies on SNAP; in Brooklyn, one in four relies on SNAP; and in Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, one in seven relies on SNAP.
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