Feds grant post-Sandy food benefits for Lower East Side

C-Squat residents grilled up meals for the community on Thurs., Nov. 1, as Lower Manhattan’s prolonged blackout was in its fourth day. Photo by George Cohen

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday announced its approval of a $13 million allocation for a federal program that will provide food aid benefits to eligible New York City residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy, including residents of nearly all of the Lower East Side and part of Chinatown.

The Disaster Supplemental Assistance Program, or D-SNAP, provides replacement benefits for food stamp recipients who lose food in a disaster, while also extending benefits to many households that would not ordinarily be eligible for food stamps but suddenly need assistance.

Tuesday’s decision extends D-SNAP benefits to any eligible residents who live in the 10002 zip code, which includes all of the area bounded by E. Houston St. on the north, the Bowery on the west, Catherine St. on the south and the East River.

More than 81,000 people lived in that area, which comprises virtually all of the Lower East Side, as of the 2010 U.S. Census.

The zip code includes seven public housing developments, as well as Knickerbocker Village, the 12-building, low-to-middle-income complex that was without power, heat, hot water or elevator service for weeks after Sandy struck.

The new allocation will also provide assistance to many residents of Coney Island and Red Hook in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway in Queens and parts of Staten Island’s southeastern shore.

Anyone who lived in the 10002 zip code and the other aforementioned areas on Oct. 27 can apply for disaster food assistance from Dec.12 to 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at 495 Clermont Avenue, Brooklyn.

The New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will determine applicant eligibility based on household income, resources and disaster-related expenses. People in D-SNAP benefit areas who already receive SNAP (regular food stamp) benefits do not need to apply; if their SNAP benefits are less than the maximum, they will automatically receive D-SNAP.

Several weeks ago, a coalition of 23 social service and advocacy groups throughout the city and state — including the Urban Justice Center, the Legal Aid Society and A.A.R.P. New York — called on Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s Human Resources Administration (which will now handle D-SNAP within the city) to apply for the food assistance benefits.

In addition, state Senator Daniel Squadron was a driving force behind getting the benefits for the 10002 zip code, working closely with advocates and the city to make sure that a Lower Manhattan portion was included in the D-SNAP allocation.