Food Stamp Applications Quadruple
New Haven Independent, April 16, 2020
By Maya McFadden
The state’s average number of food stamp applications has quadrupled during the Covid-19 crisis, from roughly 150 applications a day before the pandemic to 600 a day this week.
State Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz joined U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Deidre Gifford, Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt, and DSS SNAP Program Administration Manager Daniel Giacomi for a roundtable discussion via Zoom Tuesday to discuss how best to expand access to benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at a time when so many Connecticut families are going hungry.
SNAP recently received an additional $15.5 billion in federal funding through the latest coronavirus-related relief package passed by Congress and signed by the president.
Bysiewicz reported that as of February this year, 360,000 state residents (190,000 households) have received SNAP benefits. Of that number, 97,000 residents didn’t receive the maximum SNAP benefits and weren’t able to secure additional benefits as supplements.
Before Covid-19 the state would receive about 150 SNAP applications a day. As Covid-19 continues to affect residents through mass layoffs and with an expected hospitalization peak later this month, Bysiewicz said the state now receives more than 600 applications a day, quadrupling the state’s average number of daily applications.
“Our social safety net exists precisely for times like these,” said DeLauro.
DeLauro encouraged residents that meet SNAP eligibility to apply to access the assistance as the pandemic continues. “There is no stigma attached. It’s about middle-class families deserving a hand up in a time of need, and where they can reach that effort,” she said.
Other bills back to top
Along with the additional SNAP funding, the three emergency bills recently passed by Congress and signed by the president suspended the SNAP eligibility work requirements for jobless residents to receive assistance. The state is also in the process of working on administering pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to provide emergency SNAP allotments and increased benefits to those in need, DeLauro said.
While Covid-19 has escalated the food assistance issue nationwide, the roundtable of state officials remained optimistic encouraging affected residents to apply for SNAP benefits online through the state website or through a paper application.
“We have food in the United States, we have it,” DeLauro said.
Giacomi said that applications submitted through the state’s online portal are received the same day. Paper applications that are mailed in are received usually within 48 hours. Applications that cannot be mailed can also be put in drop boxes that are outside of city offices and checked regularly.
Amidst Covid-19, applications are taking about 16 days to process and expedited applications are taking two or three days to process, Giacomi said. The state has also extended the renewal eligibility an additional six months for applications now due in the Fall. The state is also working to suspend as many interview requirements at this time as possible.
Hurlburt discussed efforts to increase access to fresh food as the state works to increase its current 30 percent of farmers’ markets accepting SNAP. More mobile EBT card readers are being requested at farmers markets for all residents to be given the opportunity to access all food.