A coalition of groups, along with the ride hailing firm Uber, is urging state lawmakers to approve a measure that would expand the SNAP program to allow its use for delivered meals ordered through apps.
Meal delivery and curbside pickup in New York have been the sole options for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic as non-essential businesses have closed since March.
For people who cannot cook on their own or leave their homes, meal delivery apps have become especially key.
Legislation would create a Restaurant Meals Program as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, allowing use of the benefits to order prepared foods.
"While this is problematic for many during normal times, in a pandemic it can too be catastrophic to some of our most vulnerable communities, including those who are homeless and do not have access to a kitchen to prepare foods, seniors and other immunocompromised individuals who would face increased danger by leaving their homes, and those with disabilities who face additional hurdles in traveling during this time," said a memo in support of the measure states. "Creation of an RMP in New York State would allow SNAP recipients in each of these categories an option to purchase prepared, low-cost food from participating restaurants and utilize delivery or pick up services as needed."
The measure is being backed by Uber, which has highlighted its UberEats service during the pandemic. The company has also been in talks to acquire GrubHub, a meal delivery service.
Backing the bill along with the company are the New York Immigration Coalition, Met Council on Jewish Poverty, Hunger Free America, the New York State Restaurant Association, Concepts of Independence Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, City Harvest, and the New York City Hospitality Alliance Island Harvest.