The minimum monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit is $23, a number that many hunger advocates agree is too low.

“New Jersey recently passed a law to raise the minimum SNAP benefit to $95,” FeedingNYS executive director Dan Egan told Capital Tonight. “[New York] is better than New Jersey."

In April, state Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas introduced bill A6214, which would distribute to each eligible household a monthly state SNAP benefit equal to the difference between the household’s federal SNAP benefit and $95.

Currently there is no Senate sponsor, but Egan is confident. 

“Fundamentally we have a flaw in our economy. Here in the U.S. in 2023, we are living the most dynamic, the most innovative economy in human history. We live in a giant wealth creation machine, but it doesn’t benefit everybody,” he said. “Unemployment is down, that’s great. Inflation is down. But wages haven’t kept up with expenses, and that’s largely housing costs and food costs.”

A report released in March by the state comptroller’s office underscores Egan’s point. The rate of hunger in the state is on the rise: up to 10.8% by November 2022. 

About 2.9 million New York households are enrolled in SNAP, but benefits that were increased during the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to end next month. 

When asked what that will mean, Egan said more visitors to New York’s food pantries. 

“It’s going to drive them even more often to food pantries. It’s going to mean parents skipping meals so their children can eat. It’s going to make children more dependent on school meals,” he explained.

The 2018 Farm Bill, which includes SNAP benefits, is set to expire on Sept. 30.