Governor Donald L. Carcieri today announced that Rhode Island residents receiving food stamp benefits, officially entitled the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will see an increase in the monthly installment beginning April 1, 2009 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Benefits are added automatically to participant’s EBT card. The increased benefit is available to all current and future participants. Benefit increases are determined by the number of individuals in a household. On average, a household of one will an increase of $24 increase, a household of two will see an increase of $44, a household of three will receive an additional $63, and a household of four will receive an additional $80 per month.
“No one should have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “The goal of the stimulus program is to ensure that individuals and families are receiving the necessary nutritional means to live a healthy lifestyle.”
As of February 2009, there are currently 97,207 participants in the SNAP program in Rhode Island. The increased federal stimulus funds will add approximately $2.2 million directly into the Rhode Island economy each month. USDA estimates that for each dollar, it infuses $1.84 in direct and indirect dollars into the local economy. The increase in the SNAP benefit will remain in effect beyond the end of the stimulus period, September 20, 2010, as it is based on the Thrifty Food Plan, which is sets SNAP benefits to accommodate the increase in food costs.At the urging of the Governor, the Department of Human Services (DHS) recently initiated a number of policies to streamline the application process, expand eligibility, ease access to and increase participation in the SNAP Program, in particular to target greater participation of elderly and disabled, unemployed, and low-income working families. To further streamline the application process, DHS will seek to adopt a 12- month recertification requirement, versus the current six-month recertification, and is switching from face-to-face application requirement to telephone-based application.
“We have stepped up our efforts to provide information to Rhode Island families in need, and maximize federal stimulus dollars coming into Rhode Island’s economy,” said Gary Alexander, Acting Secretary for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “Many individuals who are eligible to receive benefits may not be aware of available assistance. We have increased our efforts to communicate to the public though our partnership with URI and the United Way and other community organizations to ensure the public has access to information and feels comfortable that information is confidential.”
To enhance communication among new populations, specifically the recently unemployed, DHS has partnered with the Department of Labor and Training to provide information on SNAP to those receiving unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor and Training will now include informational brochures on the SNAP program in its mailings to new unemployment insuran“I commend the Department of Human Services for their ongoing efforts to help Rhode Island families gain access to available benefits,” continued Carcieri. “These initiatives will ease the stress for many families in Rhode Island.”
Through a partnership with DHS, the University of Rhode Island Feinstein Hunger Prevention Center operates the SNAP outreach program to the community, including maintaining a confidential hotline for individuals to receive information at 1-866-306-0270, and the website www.EatBetterToday.com. Individuals can also call 2-1-1 for information on the SNAP benefit and other assistance programs. Information and an online application are also available at www.dhs.ri.gov. ce recipients.