Long Island News Post Published on May, 12th 2020
Written by Nick P
Long Island Is Hungry as Food Aid Applications Double
In recent weeks there has been almost twice the amount of applications as last year to the largest federal food aid program during the coronavirus pandemic. The jump is expected due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Reports from the Nassau County and Suffolk County social service departments indicate a sharp increase of first time applications to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program , also known as SNAP.
Number of Long Island Applications For SNAP In Recent Months Listed Below:
Nassau County, NY
- February 2020: 1,072
- March 2020: 2,140
- April 2020: 3,786
- Total: 6,998
To put these statistics into perspective, in the same period last year Nassau County and Suffolk County had 3,262 applications and 5,695 cases respectively. The total in the period was 8,957. The number of applications from Suffolk County alone this year almost matches that total.
Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone explained how many people who have never never had to utilize SNAP before are now in a position where they have no other options due to the economic difficulties they are facing from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
There are many factors taken into consideration when determining who can qualify for SNAP. To qualify, applicants' individual income must not make more than $16,248. A family of four less than $33,480, and a family of eight $56,460.
How Is Long Island Responding To The Boost In Applications?
Commissioner of Suffolk County Social Services Frances Pierre said her office has had to reconfigure in response to the unprecedented amount of applications coming in. The office of 1,300 workers has had to reorganize to allow for social distancing procedures to be followed. Social Distancing procedures being followed allow for extra space between employees and require them to wear personal protective equipment.
Other employees have been asked to process applications from home to reduce the amount of staff on site. Although the number of applications being submitted has not been seen before, Pierre says the department has a case worker for almost every application. Only a handful of applications still need to be processed.
Pierre knows the importance of ensuring that SNAP applicants receive sufficient and timely service and the effect it has on local communities. "People need to eat and they need help," she said. "When they come for SNAP we are also letting them know that pantries exist for their immediate needs."
Why Were Long Island Towns Hit So Hard Economically?
As all nonessential businesses have been closed since March 22, many entire industries have had no income in this amount of time. For example, Long Island restaurants, retail, and construction businesses have not been able to generate revenue in over a month.
This affects industries on a national level too. AMC movie theaters CEO did not hold back when explaining last month how they “Don't Have a penny of revenue coming in”.
These challenging times have led to questioning companies such as AMC, who have not been making money for months, will be able to survive long enough to reopen after the Coronavirus pandemic has ended.
High Number of Long Island claims for NYS Unemployment
In addition to the high number of SNAP applications, there has been a record number of unemployment claims in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. For the week ending May 2nd, there were a total of 26,585 jobless claims filed on Long Island with the State Department of Labor.
This has happened in the same time where the nationwide April unemployment rate hits 14.7%, the highest number in any month dating back to the Great Depression.
Even though we have seen record amounts of claims for various government services, local officials expect to see these numbers continue to increase. Safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance and emergency housing programs can see even more applications in the coming weeks.
These safety net programs are administered by counties and contracted third-party vendors but funded with state and federal money. If you would like to help support organizations like Long Island Cares. Because LI Cares is doing it's part to help feed the hungry on Long Island.
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Long Island News Post Published May 12th, 2020
Written by Nick P
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