Deidre Gifford, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services, speaking at the press conference Tuesday. Jessica Bravo / CT Mirror

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday that he has signed a public health emergency declaration that will allow the state to continue to receive supplemental support from the federal government. 

The declaration means the state will continue to receive an extra $34 million through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program every month, said Deirdre Gifford, commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

Gifford said the state has distributed about $748 million to SNAP recipients. 

The support will continue until Dec. 15, unless the federal government decides to end the program before that. 

Lamont said the only reason he extended the public health emergency was so the state could “continue to maximize the federal benefits we’re getting [for SNAP]”. 

Gifford said SNAP serves about half a million Connecticut households and is a crucial program to the state. 

“SNAP doesn’t just benefit individuals and families,” Gifford said. “It benefits hugely our entire economy. According to the USDA, for every dollar in SNAP benefits, [it] generates $1.50 in economic activity in the communities where snap beneficiaries live.”

Lamont said he wanted to make residents can get help during “these inflationary times.”

“I’d like to think that this extra $35 a week for 200,000 families when they go in that grocery store is a little bit of extra protection for those families as well,” Lamont said. 

Jason Jakubowski, CEO and president of Connecticut Foodshare, said the non-profit continues to see the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic “every single day.” He said the lines to Foodshare have started to increase again in the last few months.

“The crisis is not over, and I applaud the governor for making that declaration earlier today,” he said. “We are still in the middle of a crisis here, both in the state of Connecticut and across the country.”

Jakubowksi said the food bank can only do so much for the residents of Connecticut, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be the “first line of defense” against food insecurity in the state. 

Connecticut Foodshare also has issues with reaching all who need it, he said. Some residents have a hard time going to food shares, so SNAP gives residents more discreet assistance. 

“We’ve got this perpetual cycle of this pandemic wreaking havoc on our society, and what ends up happening is people have to rely on their benefits,” he said. 

“By investing in SNAP and by making sure that we extend the emergency, we are in a position to be able to help people help themselves by going to the grocery stores and having to rely less on emergency sources such as ourselves,” Jakuboski said. 

Jessica is CT Mirror's Emma Bowen Foundation general assignment reporter for the 2022 / 2023 academic year. She is currently a senior at Central Connecticut State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She also works at her school’s newspaper, The Recorder, and peer mentored first-year undergraduates at Central. Jessica is a Connecticut native through and through.