Funds allow replacement benefits to those who lost perishable foods.
Governor Lincoln Chafee announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved $535,796 in additional federal funds for Rhode Island. These funds will allow the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) to issue SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as "Food Stamps") replacement benefits to recipients who lost frozen and perishable foods as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
"This is one more example of the helpful response of the federal government to the people of Rhode Island," said Governor Lincoln Chafee. "SNAP benefits are 100% federal and so this help along with the aid coming from other federal agencies are key ingredients in the recovery that is taking place in our state as a result of the hard work and planning by so many."
SNAP replacement benefits help recipients restore perishable and frozen food that was lost due to power outages lasting more than four hours or replace foods lost due to flooding. DHS sought a waiver to allow automated replacement of benefits for the hardest hit municipalities. For cities and towns where fifty percent (50%) or more of residents lost power, DHS was approved by FNS to automatically replace twenty-five percent (25%) of SNAP recipients' October 2012 benefit. SNAP recipients in those cities and towns will automatically receive an allotment of 25% percent of their October benefit amount added to their SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. SNAP recipients who live in those cities and towns do not need to make an application for this benefit nor do they need to go to their area DHS office. The SNAP replacement benefits will be automatically added to their EBT cards by Friday, November 9, 2012.
Those municipalities where fifty percent or more of residents lost power are: Charlestown, Exeter, Foster, Glocester, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Narragansett, Newport, Richmond, Scituate, South Kingston, Tiverton, and Westerly.
SNAP benefits can also be replaced on an individual basis. For SNAP participants who live in all other Rhode Island municipalities and who lost perishable and frozen foods due to Hurricane Sandy, they must submit an application to DHS for SNAP replacement benefits. Those SNAP recipients must also include proof of a power loss from the storm with their application.
Such verification may be obtained from a community agency or official such as a Community Action Program, a utility company, or the Red Cross. The deadline for SNAP recipients in cities and towns that did not suffer widespread, prolonged power outages is November 28th. (FNS usually allows 10 days from the date of the weather event. However, due to the widespread impact of Hurricane Sandy, FNS has issued a 20 day extension to all states impacted by the storm, stretching the deadline to November 28th).
"We appreciate the quick work of the federal Food and Nutrition Service in response to the needs of Rhode Islanders created by the storm," said Sandra M. Powell, Director of the RI Department of Human Services. "While it was fortunate that SNAP participants received their usual benefit on November 1st, these additional benefits will ensure that they can make up for food that was lost due to the storm and do not fall behind in meeting food needs for their families."
While SNAP recipients in the 15 named communities do not need to submit an application for replacement benefits nor visit a DHS office, recipients in all other communities may obtain an application for replacement benefits at the local DHS field office or online at www.dhs.ri.gov.
Program information: The purpose of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education. Eligibility for SNAP benefits is based on income and the number of individuals in the applicant's household. Most individuals, couples and families may qualify if their monthly income is less than 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (200% for elderly or disabled households). For a family of four, that would mean a monthly income of $3,553.54 or less. Presently, there are 175,590 Rhode Islanders (97,491 households) who receive SNAP benefits. This represents $24,447,844 in SNAP benefits coming into Rhode Island each month with an average monthly benefit amount for a household of $250.77. SNAP benefits are 100% federally funded.