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Governor Cuomo Announces Disaster Food Stamp Benefits for Victims of Recent Storms

September 22, 2011 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that disaster food stamp benefits are available to households in 15 counties hard-hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program for residents in counties affected by Hurricane Irene is available starting today. Counties covered by the program include Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, and Westchester. These counties will accept Disaster Food Stamp benefit applications for at least seven days beginning today.

The Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program for residents in counties affected by Tropical Storm Lee is available starting Friday, September 23, in Broome, Delaware, Schenectady and Tioga counties, and on Monday, September 26, in Chenango and Otsego counties.

"The devastation caused by these storms has displaced many families from their homes and jobs, leaving them without food or the means to purchase food," Governor Cuomo said. "Families and individuals who normally would not seek food stamp benefits may find themselves in need of this temporary help. This emergency program will ensure that those who were most severely impacted by the storm will be able to provide for their families' nutritional needs as they continue to recover from this tragedy."

The federal government oversees the Food Stamp Program, which is operated in New York State by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin said, "Because of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee even more New Yorkers are struggling to provide meals for their families. This Disaster Food Stamp Program will help lift some of the burden of those who are eligible. It is important that families act quickly to seek this help, as it is only available for a limited time. By contacting their local department of social services, people can find the location nearest them where they can apply."

Disaster food stamp benefits can be made available when the number of people applying for food stamp benefits increases rapidly and significantly as a result of an emergency or disaster. Under the Disaster Food Stamp Benefits Program, standard eligibility criteria are relaxed so that those who may not normally qualify for food stamps can receive help to purchase food. Verification rules are also eased, reducing administrative burdens as both local agencies and applicants may not have access to records normally used for verification in the aftermath of a disaster.

To qualify for disaster food stamp benefits, applicants:

  • Must have lived in one of the designated counties at the time of the disaster. Applicants may be eligible if they are temporarily living outside of the disaster area but within the State at the time of the disaster.
  • Must plan on purchasing food during the month of September.
  • Must have experienced at least one of the following:
    • Loss of food or food stamp benefits.
    • Damage to, or the destruction of, the household's home or self-employment business.
    • Disaster-related expenses not expected to be reimbursed during the month of September (e.g. home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, etc.).
    • Loss or inaccessibility of income including reduction or termination of income, or a delay in receipt of income for half a month.
    • Inaccessible liquid resources (e.g. banks are closed due to the disaster).

To find out where to apply for disaster food stamp benefits, call 1-800-342-3009, or contact your local department of social services.

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