NYS bill seeks to raise minimum SNAP benefits, a program widely used by Haredim

The proposed new law would quadruple the minimum benefit amount from $23 to $100

A nonprofit grocery store in New Square, N.Y. Credit: Mo Gelber/Shtetl

Feb 21, 2024 3:25 PM


A new bill drafted in the New York State legislature would quadruple the minimum amount of SNAP, also known as food stamps, which is widely used by Haredi families.

SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federally funded program managed at the state level, which offers needy families funds for purchasing essential food items. Currently, households that qualify for SNAP may receive as little as $23 per month. The new legislation calls to raise the minimum to $100.

The program is relied upon heavily by Haredi communities, where poverty rates are high and family sizes are large. Partial data for Haredi SNAP usage can be seen in figures available for all-Haredi locales. Over 64% of households in the Hasidic village of New Square and nearly 50% of households in the village of Kaser, a Vizhnitz Hasidic enclave within Monsey, receive SNAP benefits, according to data from the American Community Survey. By comparison, only 14% of New York State residents overall received SNAP benefits.

The legislation is sponsored in the Assembly by Jessica González-Rojas, who represents Jackson Heights, Queens, and in the Senate by Rachel May, whose district includes Syracuse and other Central New York areas. The bill has multiple sponsors and co-sponsors, including Assemblymember Emily Gallaghar, who represents Williamsburg, which has a sizable Hasidic community, and Senator Zellnor Myrie, who represents Crown Heights, the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

As of this reporting, neither Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein nor Senator Simcha Felder, both of whom represent Hasidic communities in Brooklyn, have co-sponsored the legislation. But Eichenstein told Shtetl he has co-signed a letter to Governor Hochul requesting an appropriation in the budget to fund the program.

Many Haredi families receive more than the minimum already, and the program is not likely to impact them.

The bill was inspired by a pandemic-era program that automatically gave SNAP recipients a monthly increase. That program expired last March.