How SNAP helps New Yorkers in poverty

Person gives food to someone else
Person gives food to someone else

How SNAP helps New Yorkers in poverty

Advocates are resisting federal efforts to scale back benefits.
September 10, 2019

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helped lift 3.1 million Americans out of poverty in 2018, according to new data published Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The effects of SNAP were comparatively pronounced in New York state, which saw a 1.6 percentage point decrease according to one measure of poverty from 2016 to 2018 as a result of the federal program. SNAP also had the greatest impact on people over the age of 65 in New York compared with the rest of the county. 

Other government programs that had a noteworthy effects on poverty include Supplemental Security Income, or federal assistance for people with disabilities, which helped 2.9 million people get out of poverty over the same two-year period, and housing subsidies, which helped 3 million, according to the new census data. This new data may understate the effects these programs have on poverty, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, because survey respondents underreport the amount government assistance they receive, and it only measures people lifted above the poverty line specifically. 

The latest data comes as President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed cuts to many of these programs, including a $220 billion hit to SNAP. In July, the administration also proposed limiting the way states determine eligibility for food stamps, which would kick 3.1 million people out of the program. Measuring the exact impact of the proposal in New York is difficult, Jerome Nathaniel, senior program manager at City Harvest, told NYN Media.

“What we do know is a lot of times when these rules happen, New York and California do take a big brunt of the consequences,” he said.

Nonprofits in New York have been mobilizing to support SNAP, most recently partnering with U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney to speak out against the proposal. The coalition includes FPWA, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, UJA-Federation of New York and Fiscal Policy among other organizations. 


NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.