HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Nearly 8,000 people benefiting from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program could have their accounts empty by the first of next month.
This is because the pre-pandemic rules are now back in effect.
The federal government allowed waivers of some eligibility checks as SNAP requests skyrocketed due to COVID-19 closures.
Hawaii added more than 50,000 people to SNAP, also known as food stamps, between March 2020 and June 2021.
And the numbers continue to grow.
Last month, 205,282 people were receiving benefits – the highest number on record. In May, it was 203,885.
“We’ve seen a huge increase and a lot of them are new to the program,” said Brian Donohoe of the social, employment and support services division of the state’s department of social services.
Donohoe said those who signed up during the pandemic never had to fill out the required eligibility forms every six months.
If they don’t know they need to do this, they might mistakenly ignore or reject notifications in the mail or from their online account. The forms update the person’s employment, income and housing status, among other things, twice a year.
Last month, 17,200 notices were sent to people owed for the semi-annual check. Of these, less than half were completed and returned – only 7,700.
Users have until the end of July to update the information or they may notice an interruption in services.
“If people don’t realize that they have to send in the form, then I have… 8,000 people who will be calling our offices at the beginning of the month to ask where their benefits are,” Donohoe said.
Notices will be sent out next week for those who reach the six-month mark in August.
If your account expires, you have a short grace period to complete the form.
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