HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Food insecurity continues to be a major concern for many Connecticut families, especially during the pandemic.
For all Connecticut households enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food benefits will increase by 15%. Through SNAP, the Connecticut Department of Social Services is providing $25.5 million in additional federal food benefits in two allocations this week.
“So there’s two increases,” explained Lee Carenza with the TVCCA, Thames Valley Council for Community Action. “The first one is a 15% and that’s going to be going to all SNAP recipients in the state of Connecticut.”
That means an average $45.91 a month through June and can be seen on EBT cards Wednesday.
According to state officials, all households enrolled in SNAP will receive the “maximum” food benefit allowance for the household size.
For example, if a household of two normally received $200 off SNAP benefits in January, it will receive a 15% increase on Wednesday, Jan. 20, plus a $200 emergency benefit on Saturday, Jan. 23. Under the maximum benefit, they will now receive $430 in food benefits.
For a family of four the $680 maximum benefit jumps to $782.
Saturday’s emergency benefit is part of federal coronavirus aid. The average family will see about $150 extra on their EBT card.
“That they’re estimating to be approximately a $154 increase in benefits on average,” said Carenza.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the number of households experiencing food insecurity has increased significantly, including here in Connecticut.
“This will enable people in our community who are hungry to get more food to get healthy food and thereby freeing up some of the very, very limited money that they do have left for gasoline for diapers,” said Jeanne Millstein, Director, New London Human Services.
The TVCCA has seen an increase of about 35% on applications for SNAP since April. In just the last quarter, which would be from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, the TVCCA signed up 160 new families for the SNAP program.
“The need is staggering in New London,” said Jeanne Millstein, New London Human Services Director.
She set up a helpline in New London when the pandemic started.
“The majority of the calls have been in and around food and the number increases all the time,” said Millstein.
Food distribution events have been packed so the added benefits will most likely not go unused.