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Migrants in New York will be given prepaid credit cards to buy their own food


Alina Prikhodko

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Questions are mounting around a new pilot program that will give migrant families reusable prepaid credit cards to buy groceries and goods. According to Fox5NY, these cards will replace the food packages that are currently given to migrants.

The mayor's office said the city is cooperating with the company Mobility Capital Finance, to launch a new, more cost-effective technology pilot program to distribute so-called immediate response cards.

This program will replace boxes of non-perishable food that are distributed to migrant families living in hotels. The city now has contracts with food services to help provide food boxes to shelters.

The program will begin with 500 migrant families with children who are already temporarily living in hotels. City officials said that if the pilot program is successful, they will consider expanding it to all migrant families staying in hotels.

The cards can only be used in grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores. The amount on the card will depend on the size of the family and its income.

What the critics say

Critics call the move an insult to taxpayers. “We are simply giving migrants even more free help at the expense of New York taxpayers,” stated Council Member Joe Borelli. However, the mayor's office says the program will save New York more than $600 a month, or more than $000 million a year.

How much will these prepaid credit cards cost New Yorkers?

The pilot program will cost the city $53 million. MoCaFi CEO and Founder Wole Koaksum said: “MoCaFi's goal is to increase access to financial resources for the unbanked while helping the local economy. I am honored to be involved in supporting asylum seekers as they begin to put down roots in this country.”

Food for migrants

There is a huge food need in New York City, and local shelters are receiving numerous reports of food going to waste. The City Council held hearings to look at the quality of food served at local shelters, and some were reportedly spoiled and rotten.

Mayor Adams' office says the program will not only save the city money, but will also give families the opportunity to buy fresh food that is tailored to their “cultural diet.”

“I'm not going to give thanks for a program that has been bloated and made ineffective. Now it’s cheaper to just give people money and hope they can feed themselves,” said Councilman Joe Borelli, who believes the city is setting up migrants to fail.

Immigrant advocate Power Malu says the city is being evasive. “Buying groceries in the supermarket is no longer so cheap. Plus they don't have kitchens, so how are they going to buy the food they need? – Malu asks.

What are the benefits of the pilot program?

According to the mayor's office, prepaid credit cards will allow you to:

  • Purchase fresh food for culturally appropriate diets and items of their choice
  • Save New York more than $600 per month, or more than $000 million per year.

Families participating in the program must sign a commitment that they will use the cards as intended, and the city says anyone who violates the terms risks losing their right to participate in the pilot program.

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