June 21, 2001
Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
(518) 455-5203
Assembly Passes Bill to Extend State Food Assistance
Program for Legal Immigrants

(Albany, NY) - The New York State Assembly gave final passage yesterday to legislation (A.8706-A/S.4863-B), co-sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, to extend the State's Food Assistance Program (FAP) which provides State funded Food Stamp benefits to elderly legal immigrants who lost federally funded Food Stamps when the welfare reform law was enacted in 1996. The law establishing this program would have expired in September, 2001.

According to Ortiz, "It is important to our local communities to make sure that this important food program is effectively used to help stabilize households, reduce the burden on our churches and other voluntary feeding agencies and help seniors put enough food on the table. It was wrong for the federal government to prevent legal residents of our country from getting nutrition assistance only because they were not yet citizens. Fortunately, our State recognized the importance of these benefits and started FAP and I have fought for its continuation. I also introduced legislation to expand the program to legal immigrants who were victims of domestic violence and who need this help to get back on their feet."

FAP provides State/local funded Food Stamp benefits, in participating counties, to certain legal immigrants who became ineligible for the federal program after passage of federal welfare reform legislation in 1996. Originally FAP was available to certain immigrant children, elderly and disabled. In 1998 children, disabled and elderly over age 67 were restored to the federal program. Qualifying elderly immigrants from age 60-67 still receive benefits through the State program.

This bill would add another category of needy and vulnerable immigrants to FAP, domestic violence victims. This category is defined as lawful, permanent residents identified through domestic violence screening or those classified as qualified aliens under the immigrant protections provided by the Federal Violence Against Women Act and 8 USC 1641(c).

"Food Stamp benefits help struggling families and seniors succeed on the lower incomes they receive in entry-level jobs. These households are relying on volunteer-run food pantries for food in record numbers when they could be spending federal and State funded benefits at local food stores and farmers' markets. FAP benefits will assist domestic violence victims in their attempts to become independent as they leave their abusers," added Ortiz.

Assemblyman Ortiz urges the Governor to quickly give his approval to this legislation to reassure the elderly participants that their benefits will continue.

New York State Assembly
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