Federal funds boost food stamp benefits post-Irene

More than 208,000 low-income households in the state received additional benefits to replace food spoiled by power outages or flooding from Tropical Storm Irene, according to the state Department of Social Services.

The benefits are available to people who were, at the time of Irene, enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

The federal government, which fully funds SNAP, approved more than $13 million in replacement benefits.

DSS electronically transmitted the replacement benefits to clients’ accounts this week. The replacement benefits amount to 25 percent of a beneficiary’s monthly allocation for August. The average amount was estimated at $62, according to DSS, but ranged from $4 to more than $300.

“With enrollment continuing to grow in the current economy, we believe this extra benefit will be especially helpful to thousands of families who lost food and are struggling to make ends meet at the lowest income level,” DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby said.

In addition, people who lost food in the storm that was valued at more than a quarter of their August SNAP benefits can request additional replacement benefits. The total amount of replacement benefits–the 25 percent replacement and any additional replacement benefits–cannot be more than what the household received in August.

To request the additional replacement benefits, people must report the food loss by calling 2-1-1 or logging in and registering at www.211ct.org. This report must be made by Sept. 19. People who report a loss will receive a SNAP replacement form in the mail, and must fill it out and return it within 10 days of reporting the loss.

Bremby has also activated the state’s plan for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which could provide SNAP benefits to households not current enrolled in the program. Approval from the federal government is still pending.