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Just Thoughts is the blog of the Empire Justice Center, New York’s statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live. Here staff and guest authors will share stories, announcements and perspectives on timely issues related to our work.

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SNAP Disaster Update: D-SNAP Approved for Westchester County!

Issue Area: Public Benefits

The USDA has approved a disaster supplemental nutrition assistance program (D-SNAP) for Westchester County low income residents who were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Westchester is the first county to seek D-SNAP for struggling residents.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino made the announcement on Wednesday, November 14th.

Who is eligible?  Households who would not normally qualify for SNAP may be eligible for D-SNAP if they lived in Westchester County on October 27th and suffered disaster related damage, material losses or loss of income due to Hurricane Sandy.  Food loss alone is not an allowable qualifying circumstance.  Current SNAP recipients in Westchester County are not eligible to apply for D-SNAP, but will have their November monthly benefit automatically supplemented up to the D-SNAP benefit level (the maximum monthly allotment).  

How and When to Apply:  D-SNAP will begin on Friday, November 16th, and run until Friday, November 23rd.  D-SNAP applications can be filed at the local social services district offices in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, White Plains and Peekskill during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, excluding Thanksgiving Day), as well as at the Disaster Recovery Center in White Plains every day except Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The USDA’s D-SNAP approval letter to OTDA on Tuesday, November 13th, indicated that Westchester was the only county who had, to date, requested permission to operate a D-SNAP. 

Kudos to Westchester County for taking the lead in New York State by ensuring that needy disaster victims have access to food assistance while they are putting their lives back in order.  D-SNAP should also help ease some of the burden on the emergency food system (food pantries and soup kitchens) and will help pump additional SNAP dollars (100% federally funded) into local food retailers in Westchester County. 

Let’s hope that public officials in other disaster designated counties follow Westchester’s lead and make sure that some of their most vulnerable residents recovering from Hurricane Sandy have access to federal D-SNAP benefits!

For more information about D-SNAP, please contact Cathy Roberts at or (518) 462-6831 x 112.

Tags: SNAP | Food Stamps | Sandy | USDA | Westchester | County Executive Astorino

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