With the end of a pandemic-era boost to the Supplemental...

With the end of a pandemic-era boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Huntington Station resident Rosaura Galdamez, with her children Michelle, left and Justin, said she is concerned she will need to rely on food pantries to feed her family. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Rosaura Galdamez cuts hair out of her Huntington Station house to pay the bills. She also counts on food stamps from the government to feed her family, which includes a 1-year-old daughter, sons, ages 10 and 16, and her mom, who is 70.

But as February ended, so did a boost to those benefits she and tens of thousands of fellow Long Islanders had received through a pandemic-era increase of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, that helped millions nationwide.

“With the SNAP benefits I don’t have to go to the food bank for food. If they take it away, I’ll have to go there to get food to feed my family,” said Galdamez, 31, who is originally from San Ysidro, El Salvador, and gets $939 in SNAP benefits monthly.

A report issued Wednesday by the office of the state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, found that the number of households facing food insecurity — defined by the federal government as “household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food” — actually declined during the pandemic, due to federal relief programs and the expansion of food assistance programs. But, the office report said, he’s concerned that food insecurity might grow as pandemic-era programs lapse. DiNapoli's report found that 1 in 10, or about 800,000 New Yorkers, experienced food insecurity at some point between 2019 and 2021.

In Nassau County 28,867 households, with 41,210 people, got $139,617,801 in the food benefits in 2022, said Gregory May, the government relations liaison for the Melville-based Island Harvest, which serves about 300,000 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In Suffolk, he said, it was 66,200 households, 107,712 persons and $361,497,617 in benefits. May provided the statistics by analyzing the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance monthly reports.

For the first time in sometime, Galdamez went to a pantry run by the charity Long Island Cares, at the organization’s suggestion, she said in Spanish through a translator. She got beans, bread, meat and other food.

The extra boost she and other beneficiaries in the United States had been getting began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic expired at the end of February. The average household will lose at least $95 a month, according to an analysis by the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Food pantries are anticipating more need — and preparing.

Jessica Rosati, vice president for programs at the Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares, said in an interview that the number of Long Islanders served at its food pantries — now in Bethpage, Freeport, Hampton Bays, Huntington Station and Lindenhurst — has been rising overall for years. In 2022, Rosati said, the food banks helped 114,656 people, compared with 73,896 in 2021, a 65% increase.

Now, with the bump's expiration, Rosati expects the number to go up even more.

“It’s only gonna put an extra burden on Long Island families to be able to successfully provide for themselves, so they’re gonna turn to the food bank for that supplement,” she said.

The charity, which is building a new food pantry in Valley Stream, also distributes food to 325 different food programs on Long Island, such as churches, synagogues, nonprofits and other charities, which in turn give the food out to needy people in their reach.

In a prepared statement, Patricia Martin-Husbands, director of guest services for the Interfaith Nutrition Network, said she’s expecting more Long Islanders to seek help at the group’s Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen in Hempstead.

“The decrease in SNAP benefits will greatly affect the guests we serve at The INN. Long Islanders already face high housing costs, and the price of groceries are still increasing. We expect to see a significant increase in the number of people coming to the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen, and many of them most likely never would have expected to have to wait in line to receive these services."

Rosati said that Long Island Cares — which helps 229,000 people who are food insecure across Long Island, 69,000 of them children — is preparing for the anticipated increase, and will keep giving out its allotmen, a minimum three days’ worth of food, per person, to make three meals per day, “whether you’re single or whether you’re a household of 10.”

“We’re here. We’re Long islanders first,” she said. “So we’re gonna make sure that anything anybody needs we’re going to do our darndest to make sure that they get it.” 

With Veronica Garcia and Olivia Winslow

Rosaura Galdamez cuts hair out of her Huntington Station house to pay the bills. She also counts on food stamps from the government to feed her family, which includes a 1-year-old daughter, sons, ages 10 and 16, and her mom, who is 70.

But as February ended, so did a boost to those benefits she and tens of thousands of fellow Long Islanders had received through a pandemic-era increase of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, that helped millions nationwide.

“With the SNAP benefits I don’t have to go to the food bank for food. If they take it away, I’ll have to go there to get food to feed my family,” said Galdamez, 31, who is originally from San Ysidro, El Salvador, and gets $939 in SNAP benefits monthly.

Food insecurity report

A report issued Wednesday by the office of the state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, found that the number of households facing food insecurity — defined by the federal government as “household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food” — actually declined during the pandemic, due to federal relief programs and the expansion of food assistance programs. But, the office report said, he’s concerned that food insecurity might grow as pandemic-era programs lapse. DiNapoli's report found that 1 in 10, or about 800,000 New Yorkers, experienced food insecurity at some point between 2019 and 2021.

What to know

  • A pandemic-era increase of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ended Tuesday.
  • In Nassau County 28,867 households, with 41,210 people, got $139,617,801 in the food benefits in 2022.
  • In Suffolk, it was 66,200 households, 107,712 persons and $361,497,617 in benefits. 
  • The average household will lose at least $95 a month.

In Nassau County 28,867 households, with 41,210 people, got $139,617,801 in the food benefits in 2022, said Gregory May, the government relations liaison for the Melville-based Island Harvest, which serves about 300,000 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In Suffolk, he said, it was 66,200 households, 107,712 persons and $361,497,617 in benefits. May provided the statistics by analyzing the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance monthly reports.

For the first time in sometime, Galdamez went to a pantry run by the charity Long Island Cares, at the organization’s suggestion, she said in Spanish through a translator. She got beans, bread, meat and other food.

The extra boost she and other beneficiaries in the United States had been getting began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic expired at the end of February. The average household will lose at least $95 a month, according to an analysis by the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Food pantries are anticipating more need — and preparing.

Jessica Rosati, vice president for programs at the Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares, said in an interview that the number of Long Islanders served at its food pantries — now in Bethpage, Freeport, Hampton Bays, Huntington Station and Lindenhurst — has been rising overall for years. In 2022, Rosati said, the food banks helped 114,656 people, compared with 73,896 in 2021, a 65% increase.

More people in need

Now, with the bump's expiration, Rosati expects the number to go up even more.

“It’s only gonna put an extra burden on Long Island families to be able to successfully provide for themselves, so they’re gonna turn to the food bank for that supplement,” she said.

The charity, which is building a new food pantry in Valley Stream, also distributes food to 325 different food programs on Long Island, such as churches, synagogues, nonprofits and other charities, which in turn give the food out to needy people in their reach.

In a prepared statement, Patricia Martin-Husbands, director of guest services for the Interfaith Nutrition Network, said she’s expecting more Long Islanders to seek help at the group’s Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen in Hempstead.

“The decrease in SNAP benefits will greatly affect the guests we serve at The INN. Long Islanders already face high housing costs, and the price of groceries are still increasing. We expect to see a significant increase in the number of people coming to the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen, and many of them most likely never would have expected to have to wait in line to receive these services."

Rosati said that Long Island Cares — which helps 229,000 people who are food insecure across Long Island, 69,000 of them children — is preparing for the anticipated increase, and will keep giving out its allotmen, a minimum three days’ worth of food, per person, to make three meals per day, “whether you’re single or whether you’re a household of 10.”

“We’re here. We’re Long islanders first,” she said. “So we’re gonna make sure that anything anybody needs we’re going to do our darndest to make sure that they get it.” 

With Veronica Garcia and Olivia Winslow

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