2007-05-30 / Features

Apply For Food Stamps Online- It's Quicker

BY JOHN TOSCANO

A project allowing New Yorkers to apply online for Food Stamps, which will be helpful to working families and seniors, is expected to begin shortly in Long Island City, an anti-hunger advocate announced last week.

Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said the new program would be available at the Center for Hope International/East River Development Alliance in Long Island City.

Berg said people can call Food Change, another anti-hunger group at 1- 866-FOOD NYC (1-866-366-3692) to determine if they are eligible for Food Stamps and then, if they live in Long Island City or close by may be referred to the local online application office.

The announcement of the online application for Food Stamps was made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn last Tuesday. They said the city Human Resources Administration (HRA) and two non-profit partners- the NYC Coalition Against Hunger and FoodChange- had started a Paperless Office System (POS) project in which low-income New Yorkers would receive "facilitated assistance" to apply for Food Stamps benefits online at pilot sites in soup kitchens and food pantries in all five boroughs.

Greeting the announcement, Berg stated: "These efforts can start taking a large bite out of the Big Apple's hunger problem." His organization is an umbrella group for the more than 1,200 food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City.

Berg explained that the online application program would be particularly helpful for working families, seniors and people with disabilities, many of whom can now obtain Food Stamps without ever having to go to a city office.

He explained: "Because such applicants are able to have their applications and supporting documents forwarded electronically to HRA, they are often able to have their follow- up interviews over the phone rather than in person, which makes it far easier for them to apply while still ensuring that the government obtains the accurate information it needs.

"We are grateful to HRA, Food Change and our neighborhood-based partners for achieving significant success on this project in its initial stage. So far, this joint project is truly a 'win-win' solution."

Bloomberg and Quinn also announced that the ACCESS NYC program, a free online service that identifies and screens applicants for numerous city, state and federal human service benefit programs, including Food Stamps, has just been upgraded to include three additional nutrition assistance programs: WIC, school meals and summer meals for children.

Additionally, they announced that the Kellogg Foundation will be funding a significant public/private partnership to reduce obesity by increasing the availability of nutritious food in low-income neighborhoods and enabling more New Yorkers to engage in physical activity.

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