Severe storms that cause power outages are a problem for everyone affected, but they’re especially hard on low-income families with limited financial resources. Power outages that last long enough for food to spoil can wreak havoc on the budgets of households that depend on food stamps and similar government assistance programs.
Officials in Tennessee aim to soften the blow through its Disaster Related Emergency Assistance program, which provides replacement benefits to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formally known as food stamps.
SNAP is the food purchasing assistance program overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered at the state level. In Tennessee, the program is run by the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS). On its website, the agency said it is “prepared to provide replacement (SNAP) benefits” to current SNAP households who suffered losses due to severe weather that might have caused power outages or a “household misfortune.”
Many households in the western part of the state suffered power outages earlier this week. Roughly 120,000 Memphis, Light, Gas & Water (MLGW) customers lost power during severe storms that hit on Sunday, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 70,000 customers were still without power. MLGW officials called it the sixth-worst storm in recorded history in terms of customer outages. The utility company also said customers should prepare to be without power for at least part of this week.
Replacement SNAP benefits are available for existing recipients who were impacted as follows, according to the TDHS:
- Lost food due to a power outage of 12 hours or more
- Lost food due to a household misfortune
SNAP recipients requesting replacement benefits need to sign an affidavit and send it to TDHS using the Upload Documents option within the One DHS Customer Portal, which is available here: OneDHS.tn.gov/csp
To be eligible, you must request replacement benefits within 10 calendar days of experiencing food loss. Once approved, SNAP replacement benefits are issued on your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Replacement SNAP benefits will be authorized for the value of the loss only and can’t exceed the current month’s allotment, according to the TDHS.
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