By Eric Klein
Bronx residents are being urged to make use of a city program offering free fruits and vegetables, with steep cuts looming to the U.S. government’s food stamp program.
New Yorkers who receive food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT), can get free fruits, vegetables and beans at a handful of supermarkets in the five boroughs, including the Fine Fare stores at 459 East 149th St. and 3550 White Plains Rd. in the Bronx.
For every dollar a participant spends using food stamps on eligible fruits, vegetables and beans, they will get a matching dollar in reward points – up to $50 per day – that can be used for their next purchase of eligible produce, city officials said.
Eligible foods include:
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs
- Frozen fruits and vegetables without added sugar, salt or fat
- Canned and jarred fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils without added sugar, salt or fat
- Dried beans, lentils and fruit without added sugar, salt or fat
Thousands of Bronx residents stand to lose access to food stamps under new work requirements instituted by the Trump administration—part of a group of approximately 688,000 Americans expected to be impacted by the change.
The new requirements, part of a USDA rule change, would affect people between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have kids and are not disabled, government officials said. Current rules state that, in order to qualify for food stamps, people in that group must work at least 20 hours a week, for over three months, during a three-year period.
Before now, the government has allowed states to issue waivers to those requirements.
The rule change limits state waivers to areas with at least six percent unemployment. Unemployment in the Bronx was 5.6 percent as of October.
At least 15 states and New York City are jointly suing the Trump administration to stop the rule change, which New York State Attorney General Letitia James has said “directly undermines Congress’ intent for SNAP, and that the USDA violated the federal rulemaking process.”