NJ Issuing Emergency Food Stamps After Sandy

State officials say they have imposed more restrictions after learning lessons after Tropical Storm Irene

By GEOFF MULVIHILL
|  Monday, Nov 19, 2012  |  Updated 9:18 PM EDT
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Some New Jersey residents affected by Sandy will be eligible to apply for emergency food stamps starting next week.

But state officials say they have imposed more restrictions after learning lessons from the first time they used the federal Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program last year after Tropical Storm Irene.

The state's own review found that after Irene, nearly 1 in 5 households that received the emergency food stamps were ineligible for the benefits as a result of mistakes, confusion and fraud.

After Irene, residents who met income criteria in every part of the state were eligible.

After Sandy, the state is allowing only from those who live in areas where more than half the customers lost power for at least four hours, said Lowell Ayre, deputy state Human Services commissioner. That includes all of 16 counties and portions of Burlington and Cumberland Counties. Those who live in Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties will not be eligible at all.

To apply, residents must show that they make less than 225 percent of the federal poverty rate — or $48,400 for a family of four.

Recipients are also required to show receipts that show they spent at least $100 in storm-related expenses. Replacement food does not count. But restaurant bills, hotel bills, and home or car repairs could qualify if they were storm-related.

Applications will be taken in-person by county welfare officials over seven days starting Nov. 26.

Benefits depend on household size. A person living alone could receive $200; a family of four would get $668.

People already receiving non-disaster food assistance in the affected areas have already been sent supplemental assistance for lost food. They will receive an additional, automatic one-time boost.

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