Promoting Food Security

Why: Some families and individuals also need help getting nourishing meals on the table.  New York City is committed to assisting low-income individuals and families afford nutritious and healthy food.

How: We administer multiple programs for those who need financial help getting nourishing meals on the table, and also encourage more grocery stores and fresh food retail in their neighborhoods. The City works to ensure that New Yorkers are aware of the programs available to them and promotes program participation.

Food Stamps
For years, New York City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) has made access to food stamps easier through a variety of initiatives including streamlining the application process, improvements in technology, and continued outreach. One important change to access has been the income resource test waiver that has allowed families to be eligible for food stamps at 130% the poverty rate, and for seniors, 200% the poverty rate. Other changes include: the recertification timeline has increased from 6 to 12 months, more than 60 community-based organizations now assist with the application process, and an interactive telephone system to recertify have all been put into place, lifting the burden on working adults to come into the office more often than necessary.
Apply online for food stamps or find your nearest food stamp office 

Health BucksHealth Bucks
Health Bucks are $2 coupons good for fresh fruits and vegetables at all NYC farmers markets and are provided to low-income New Yorkers as a SNAP incentive or through community based organizations.  Health Bucks is the largest municipal farmer’s market incentive program in the country. For every $5 spent in SNAP benefits at the market, beneficiaries receive a $2 Health Bucks coupon, representing a 40% increase in purchasing power.

Organizations serving low-income New Yorkers can also distribute Health Bucks coupons to support participation in health and nutrition programming and to encourage more residents to shop at farmers markets.
Learn about Health Bucks
Download Farmers’ Market Programs

Emergency Food
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) helps to provide food to more than 475 emergency food pantries across New York City. EFAP is a municipally funded emergency food program, and all of the food the City purchases for pantries is in compliance with the NYC Agency Food Standards.

In addition, because rates of diet-related diseases are higher among people with limited access to nutritious food, the City worked with the anti-hunger community and NYC food retailers to create the Healthy Food Donation Initiative, which aims to increase the amount and types of healthy food they distribute to New Yorkers struggling to feed themselves and their families.  The following materials provide information on how to donate healthier food if you are a food business and how to procure healthier food if you are an emergency food program.

Resources for Emergency Food Programs

Resources for Food Companies

In response to this initiative, there were a number of food retailers who agreed to partner with the City and increase the amount of healthier items they donate and limit their donations of unhealthy items, including:

  • BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc.
  • Bogopa Service Corporation dba Food Bazaar Supermarkets
  • FreshDirect, LLC.
  • Krasdale Foods, Inc.
  • Union Market/Post Food Corporation

School Meals
Healthy meals are essential for kids’ well being. In New York City public schools, breakfast is served in school cafeterias prior to the start of the school day to any student, at no cost. A nutritious lunch is also served at all schools for $1.50 per meal, or free or reduced price for families that qualify. Most of our students qualify for free or reduced price lunches.

The Department of Education encourages all eligible students to enroll for free or reduced-price meals. Parents and guardians can return completed paper applications to their child’s school, or they can apply online.
Apply online now

Summer Meals
Each year, the MOFP, in partnership with DOE, works with more than a dozen City agencies and nonprofits such as Share Our Strength to help coordinate and promote the Summer Meals program.  This program, run by DOE’s Office of SchoolFood, serves free meals to all children 18 years of age and younger at sites throughout the City when school is out. Thanks to collaboration with our partners, the City served more than 7 million meals in 2012.