During the COVID-19 pandemic, New York received billions of dollars to boost safety net programs. But now much of that money is going away. 

Programs meant to combat hunger for needy people were boosted during the pandemic — billions of dollars in federal aid sent to New York during the emergency.

But aid for programs like the Supplemental Nutrional Assistance Program and others like it that expanded benefits has ended.

State Assemblywoman Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas says the state budget needs to provide support. 

"We're fighting to invest in programs like SNAP, which is one of the most effective programs to fight hunger," she said. "It's 27 times the investment."

New York lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul this week are negotiating a $227 billion budget, and Democrats like Gonzalez-Rojas want to add more to a final deal to aid anti-hunger programs and other safety net services as need continues. 

"The pandemic EBT program has ended," Gonzalez-Rojas said. "We saw peoples' SNAP benefits go away. We're fighting to make sure that people have the resources that they need. We need to up the limits."

Lawmakers are also pushing for $280 million to fund universal school meals — a measure that has drawn considerable bipartisan support. Adovcates on Tuesday demonstrated outside the governor's office to call attention to the issue. The funding is meant to replace federal support for universal school meals during the pandemic.

Mohonasen High School's Yuliano Camarena says the money made a difference. 

"You saw students actually have food," Camarena said. "They were happy, they were interacting. You didn't see any bullying or stigma of having a free meal. Everyone had it because it was already provided by the government."

But the added benefits would also further state spending, already at record levels this year. 

Republicans including Sen. Andrew Lanza raised concerns over accelerating spending in the state budget over the last several years — spending that grew due to federal aid. 

"We see unbridled, out of control, unprecedented spending here in New York," Lanza said.  

Lanza said spending needs to be slowed in New York in order to make the state more affordable.  

"As spending is going up, as government control and power is expanding things are getting worse here in New York," he said. "We've become really the most expensive and least safe state here in America."

A budget is due to pass by Saturday, but as of Tuesday most lawmakers do not expect a deal by then.