In an effort to help Rhode Islanders in need who lost food during the recent winter storm power outages, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide up to $2.1 million in federal funding to communities throughout the state that were hit hardest by the storm. The replacement of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits could help an estimated 20,400 households in Rhode Island.
"I commend USDA for speeding this assistance to Rhode Island and being responsive to the needs of our communities that were hit hard by this snow storm. The power outages from this storm took a heavy toll on some of our most vulnerable citizens, particularly seniors and low-income families. This federal funding will help those who are still struggling to replenish food that spoiled due to the storm," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.
Due to power outages caused by the blizzard that began on February 8, Rhode Island applied for a waiver from the federal government to issue mass replacement cards for people receiving SNAP benefits who lost food because of the storm. On February 20th, the state requested waivers from the USDA for 19 Rhode Island cities and towns at 45%. The affected communities are: Barrington, Bristol, Central Falls, Charlestown, East Providence, Exeter, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Narragansett, Newport, North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Richmond, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren and Westerly.
Rhode Island issues SNAP benefits on the first day of the month. The federal funds will go to the state, which is eligible for up to $2.1 million in assistance. The total amount distributed will depend on how many eligible Rhode Islanders seek assistance.