New York City's Families Have $46 Million Dollars Left on the Table in Unclaimed Food Benefits

New York City's Families Have $46 Million Dollars Left on the Table in Unclaimed Food Benefits

by M.C. Millman 

An estimated 90,000 unused cards distributed to NYC students valued at at least $46 million in unclaimed pandemic food benefits are still waiting to be picked up from the table for New Yorkers who aren't even aware the funds are available given the minimal publicity NYC has put out to create awareness. 

"While hunger and insecurity are the number one challenge facing low-income families in need today," Avi Greenstein, BPJCC CEO, shares with BoroPark24, "the P-EBT cards allow a family to go to the grocery and pick out the food their family will eat in a dignified way and at a convenient time for them. This accomplishes so much more than a food distribution or food pantry. It is, therefore, that much greater of a loss if families don't even know the funding is right there at their fingertips, which is why we are working at the BPJCC to get the word out there in every way we can to benefit New Yorkers everywhere."

The $46 million dollars in potential benefits that remain unused are presently set to expire early next year, with New York families losing out on the  Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EB federal funds they still aren't aware of for the most part. The funds were originally meant to help cover meal costs for families with students receiving free meals at school, which were paused due to COVID. As New York City's public schools have universal meals, all NYC families are eligible regardless of household income.

As reported by BoroPark24 here,  earlier this summer, the State distributed a minimum of  $391 per child for the summer of 2022 and the 2021-22 school year. There was also P-EBT funding in May of 2020, as reported by BoroPark24 here.

New York State has issued approximately $5.4 billion in P-EBT benefits to date. Sixty percent of the funding benefits went to low-income families already receiving SNAP federal benefits. Yes, 300,000 students statewide have not touched the funding still loaded to their P-EBT cards.

According to state data shared by David Rubel, education consultant and author of a report on unspent P-EBT fund, among non-SNAP families, more than 90,000 students in the City have not redeemed funds loaded from this summer's allotment and from the 2021-2022 school year. While some of these families are middle and upper-income, most have incomes that just hover above SNAP eligibility. Many of these families are struggling to make ends meet, but there aren’t any government programs available to them. 

The most recent NYC-HRA data for Boro Park-Kensington (Community District 12) shows that 60,402 residents are SNAP recipients. The total population is 205,000 people, meaning 29.4% of all residents in that local receive SNAP benefits.

“With hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers struggling with hunger insecurity," Rubel, shares with BoroPark24, "we now find out that at least $46 million for free groceries is sitting on the table unspent just in NYC. Statewide, the figure is around $150 million. This makes no sense. All that’s needed is more publicity to get the word out. The good news is that families still have time to request a Replacement Card from NYS-OTDA”.   

To check your P-EBT account to see how much money is left, click here.

If you misplaced a previously issued P-EBT card, call 1-888-328- 6399 to get it replaced. For more information, including if you need to apply for a P-EBT card, go to the FAQ on the NYS-OTDA website here.

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