The Department of Public Welfare has begun issuing food replacement benefits to recipients in 11 counties most affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Benefits were provided under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for the food stamp program.
“The recent hurricane wreaked havoc on many Pennsylvania communities,” Secretary Gary D. Alexander said. “Because of the large number of power outages resulting in widespread loss of food, the department requested support from the federal government to help current SNAP recipients replenish products that spoiled due to the storm.”
Using data based on power outages and flood maps, recipients in the following counties were determined to be hardest hit and were eligible to receive the replacement benefits: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Cameron, Clearfield and Juniata counties.
Each recipient received 40 percent of their October SNAP benefit; this percentage was based on the date of the hurricane and the approximate amount of food that may have been destroyed. The funds were placed on current recipients electronic benefit transfer cards for use on Saturday, Nov. 17.
“It was our intent to make the process to receive the replacement benefits as easy as possible for as many recipients as possible,” Alexander said. “Where they’d normally need to fill out extra paperwork, this process allowed us to just place the funding on their card for use if they qualified for it.”
SNAP recipients who lost more than the 40 percent replacement amount will need to complete an affidavit to receive the difference. Recipients who already requested and received a replacement benefit will not receive an additional payment. SNAP recipients not residing in the designated counties, but who lost food due to Hurricane Sandy, should contact their county assistance office to learn how to qualify for the replacement benefit.
For more information about the Department of Public Welfare, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us, or call 1-800-932-0582.
Similar beneifts were enacted after Hurricane Irene in 2011.