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NY state officials tout increase in SNAP eligibility

Randy Gorbman

State and local officials went to Rochester's Public Market Thursday to tout the fact that more New Yorkers are now eligible for nutritional benefits under the SNAP program, what used to be called food stamps.

New Yorkers getting SNAP benefits can use that program to buy food at a number of farmers' markets around the state. Rochester has the largest SNAP redemption program of any farmers' market in the country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just announced that 750,000 additional working families are now eligible for SNAP.

Linda Bopp is a member of the governor's anti-hunger task force and also executive director of Hunger Solutions of New York, which is a non-profit dedicated to supporting programs that end hunger.

She says changing eligibility standards for the SNAP program will alleviate food shortages for a number of families.

“These are parents and caregivers who skipped meals so that their children can have enough to eat. These are individuals working to create a better life for themselves and this is just the hand up that can help them achieve that.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says one of the most important aspects of the state's decision to change the eligibility requirements is that more people considered to be the 'working poor' will be able to get into the food program.

“There are a number of people that are working and because of the amount of money that they make they currently aren’t eligible for SNAP benefits. This will expand that so that more families will be covered, they wouldn’t be penalized for earning 25 cents more, a dollar more in their paychecks and I think that’s good for our community.”

The expansion of the program is expected to bring as much as $688 million annually in additional federally-funded SNAP benefits to New York state.