App helps New Yorkers in need find government aid
by Patrick Kearns
Jan 17, 2017 | 1548 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Borough President Eric Adams announces his support for the app Benefit Kitchen.
Borough President Eric Adams announces his support for the app Benefit Kitchen.
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A Brooklyn-based app developer is helping residents from across the country claim some of the $80 billion in federal, state and local aid that goes untouched every year.

For many, the task of finding aid can be extremely difficult. It's estimated in New York that only 50 percent of eligible residents receive food stamps.

Benefit Kitchen, a winner of the 2015 NYC BigApps contest, was created by Dan Beeby and Melanie Lavelle as an effective way to eliminate the distance between residents and government aid.

“You put your tax money into these programs and when you need help, you should be able to get them with dignity and respect,” Lavelle said.

App users enter where they live, monthly income, and other information, but not their name or social security number. It takes approximately 10 minutes. The app then shows what aid is available through 18 different agencies and how to access it.

Shadia Barneys, a Bed-Stuy mother of four, found $354 in monthly benefits and $9,000 in tax credits through Benefit Kitchen.

“I was able to find resources that I didn't know I was eligible for,” Barneys said. “The app is easy to use. I was able to really get some answers that I was looking for.”

Erica Chapelle received assistance through SNAP and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

“It was really convenient,” she said. “You didn't have a long wait, there wasn't a lot of confusing questions.”

Borough President Eric Adams is allocating $5,000 so local organizations like can be trained on using the app. He said Benefit Kitchen is a universal, holistic approach to solving issues related to poverty.

“That's what this is all about,” Adams said. “A one-stop shop in a very dignified manner.”

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