155% increase in Ala. food assistance applications between February and March

SNAP benefits see increase due to coronavirus

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Human Resources said there was a 155 percent increase in internet applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, from February to March.

Last week the department had 15,261 internet applications for SNAP benefits. The week prior they had 9,170.

“This is not normal," said Food Assistance Division Director Brandon Hardin. “Although when we see a significant increase, we’re steadily continuing to work those cases.”

The Alabama Department of Labor is slammed with applications after thousands were laid off. Hardin said DHR is not in the “definition of what you would say a backlog would be.”

Hardin said the department has seven business days to approve an application for someone who has zero income coming in. For others, they have 30 days to approve it.

Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Act which will help DHR process claims.

“That will help us with interviewing clients and getting to the information we need very quickly, and then be able to process those cases a lot quicker," Hardin said.

The act also gives people a bump in the amount of benefits they can receive.

Hardin said if a single person household usually receives $15 each month in benefits, they would be allowed the maximum allotment of $194 each month.

Maximum allotment for SNAP benefits
Maximum allotment for SNAP benefits (Source: WSFA)

The act also changes how long someone can have benefits for. Carol Gundlach with Alabama Arise says they estimate about 55,000 Alabamians previously could not have snap benefits for more than three months, but that has now changed.

“They’re now eligible again, and so they should go in and reapply for benefits if they have been cut off because of the time limit because they’re eligible again, and will not be cut off as long as this emergency lasts," Gundlach said.

To apply for SNAP benefits you can go online to myalabama.gov.

To qualify for SNAP benefits you must be a resident of the state of Alabama. You also need to have annual household incomes which are less than or equal to the following below:

Criteria to qualify for SNAP
Criteria to qualify for SNAP (Source: wsfa)

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