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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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D-SNAP update – New York City and Long Island

Issue Area: Public Benefits

New York City:  The Human Resources Administration (HRA) has gotten approval to operate a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), for one week beginning on Wednesday, December 12th.    D-SNAP will help thousands of New York City’s Hurricane Sandy survivors buy food.  However, due to limitations in the program, not all needy disaster victims will have access to this 100% federally funded food assistance benefit.  Advocates are calling on HRA, OTDA and USDA to expand New York City’s D-SNAP

Long Island:   To date, neither Nassau nor Suffolk County DSS has made a formal request to operate D-SNAP.  Don Friedman from our Central Islip office is part of an ad hoc coalition of advocates aiming to make D-SNAP a reality on Long Island.  The coalition sent letters, signed by 40 organizations, to the Nassau and Suffolk County social services  commissioners  asking them to request D-SNAP immediately, and developed a fact sheet outlining the benefits of D-SNAP.  The coalition estimates that D-SNAP could bring over $13 million in federal funds to local food retailers across Long Island, and help put food on the table for 100,000 low-income households recovering from Hurricane Sandy.  For more information, contact Don Friedman at

Tags: HRA | Superstorm Sandy | D-SNAP | food stamps | Hurricane Sandy | OTDA

Volunteer to Help Hardworking Families!!

Issue Area: Consumer

The holiday season brings out the volunteer spirit in all of us. But for most of us it’s also an extremely busy time of year. So why not make a commitment today to volunteer during tax season after the holidays!


C.A.S.H. [Creating Assets, Savings and Hope] is a community coalition that helps working families in Monroe County, GET, KEEP, and GROW their money.  One of the ways we are able to do this is by offering free income tax preparation to income eligible households and connecting them to community resources.  In 2012, over 500 volunteers helped 13,000 families resulting in tax refunds of $24 million going back into their pockets and this community.


We are about more than just preparing tax returns, so there is an opportunity for everyone!!  Click HERE for a list of volunteer opportunities that are available.


Top Reasons to become a C.A.S.H. Volunteer:

  • Ability to help hundreds of low income families
  • No experience necessary, flexible training schedule provided for all roles
  • Great resume builder
  • Opportunity to network with hundreds of volunteers
  • Flexible enough for any schedule - volunteer days, nights or weekends for 3-4 hours per week at a site of your choice.


Bring a coworker, family member, or friend with you to a Volunteer Information Meeting* to learn more about how you can get involved.  Join us on Sat Dec 15 11am-1pm or Mon, Dec 17, 5–7pm or Sat Jan 5, 9–11am. Contact me to reserve your spot at 585-295-5733 or


* Meetings are held at the United Way of Greater Rochester on 75 College Avenue, 14607.

Tags: Income Tax Prepration | Volunteer | VITA | Coalition | CASH