Hurricane Sandy victims who rely on food stamps may get aid to replace spoiled food

By Susan K. Livio

Hurricane Sandy victims who rely on food stamps may qualify for additional aid to reimburse them for lost and spoiled food, state Human Services officials announced.

Beneficiaries of the food stamp program &mdashl also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — will receive an additional 25 percent increase in their monthly spending allowance, according to the department. They do not need to contact their county welfare agencies to receive this benefit if they live in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

These people also may use their electronic benefit card to buy hot and cold prepared meals from participating stores with their benefits, under a temporary exception to the rules.

“These are families already at great risk for hunger,” Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez said in a prepared statement. “The replacement and prepared food benefit will enable SNAP recipients in counties hardest hit by the hurricane to restock their refrigerator if they have power, or purchase ready-to-eat meals.”

Residents of Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem are eligible for the additional aid, but must go to their county welfare office to apply for it. They will not be allowed to buy prepared food with their food stamp money, however, according to the statement.