Public Health sees surge in food stamp applicants

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There has been a surge in those who are applying for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP.

The Department of Public Health and Social Service public assistance division has seen a rise in the number of applicants applying for SNAP benefits — but not so much on the cash assistance side.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges and struggles to families on island, one of which is putting food on the table.

Public Health’s Tess Arcangel confirms that there has been a surge in those who are applying for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP.

NOTE: Tess Arcangel’s name was inadvertently misspelled in the video. We apologize for the error.

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“For new and pre-application we see a drastic increase in the total number as compared to the previous months. Up to yesterday, from April 1st to April 21st, we got 777 for SNAP for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Mostly, they are applying for SNAP, not so much on MIP and Medicaid and cash assistance programs. In the cash assistance program, slowly there is a slight increase,” Arcangel said.

She attributes this increase to reduced hours, furloughs and layoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who have applied for benefits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, if approved, will receive benefits for one year. But Archangel says like all SNAP recipients, changes to income must be reported.

“If there are any changes, if they go back to work, let’s say in three months time or in four months time, they have to inform us because if not, then definitely we are going to recoup those benefits,” Arcangel said.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP recipients are receiving the maximum allotment under the supplemental emergency allotment.

Arcangel says that Public Health has requested for the emergency allotment to span two months.

She added that should the Governor’s emergency health declaration continue for the full month of May, a request may be made by DPHSS to extend the maximum benefits.

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