Illinois Launches Emergency Food Stamp Program

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Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services has authorized the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to offer a special Disaster Food Stamp Program for residents of 18 counties declared federal disaster areas in the aftermath of the recent flooding.

“The floods of the past month have had a devastating effect on many families in these 18 counties,” said Governor Blagojevich. “While it may take a long time for them to replace what they lost in the floods, they also have more immediate needs such as food, clothing and shelter and that’s where we can step in and provide help right now. We thank the USDA for approving the emergency Food Stamp assistance so we can ensure that everyone has enough food on their tables as they try to recover from the devastating floods.”

Special applications for the Disaster Food Stamp Program are available at (IDHS) Family Community Resource Centers located in the following counties that were designated as federal disaster areas: Adams, Calhoun, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Hancock, Henderson, Jasper, Jersey, Lake, Lawrence, Mercer, Rock Island, Whiteside and Winnebago. Applications will be accepted Wednesday July 9 through Friday July 11 and Monday July 14 through Thursday July 17 from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. each day.

Illinois residents who lived or worked in a disaster area in one of these counties at the time of the disaster may qualify for this special program. Applicants should bring proof of their identity and their residence or job in a disaster area prior to the disaster. To qualify, they must have experienced an adverse effect from the disaster, including damage to home or business, food loss, disaster-related expenses not reimbursed, loss or reduction of income, or inaccessibility of assets.

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Disaster Food Stamps will be provided to families based on cash resources available to a household during the disaster. Non-reimbursed disaster-related expenses are allowed as a deduction from cash resources. A 4-person family with a maximum allowable income of $2,295 would receive $542 in food stamps. A qualifying 3-person family would receive $426 and 2 persons $298. Most benefits will be available within 3 days of the date of application.

Persons on the regular Food Stamp Program that were affected by the disaster are also encouraged to apply for this special program because they may qualify for additional food stamp benefits to bring their benefit level up to the maximum benefit amount for the month of the disaster.

Food Stamps can be used to purchase food for human consumption, but cannot be used to buy alcoholic drinks, tobacco products or non-food products. Under a special waiver granted by USDA, persons in the affected areas will be able to use food stamps for hot food items where Illinois Link benefits are accepted.

Persons committing fraud with the Food Stamp Program may be disqualified from the program, may be fined up to $250,000 and put in prison up to 20 years or both.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, the Illinois Department of Human Services is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability.

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