South Carolina welfare officials say some of the state’s poorest residents who lost their refrigerated or frozen food due to power outages from Hurricane Matthew may be able to get assistance.
The Department of Social Services said this week that its current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in 25 counties significantly impacted by the storm will get their benefits automatically replaced this month. The replacement amount will be added to SNAP recipients living in counties where at least 50 percent of residents lost power for four hours or more, regardless of whether the recipient themselves lost power.
“If they live in that area and they’re already receiving SNAP between October 1 and October 7 (right before the storm), we will automatically replace half of that,” DSS Deputy State Director Amber Gillum told South Carolina Radio Network.
Those eligible counties are Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Calhoun, Charleston, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Sumter and Williamsburg. Those residents living in Richland County’s zip codes 29061, 29206, 29209 and Berkeley County’s 29431, 29436, 29450, and 29461 will also be eligible because their zip code met the criteria even if the entire county did not.
However, SNAP recipients could still live outside those areas and still be eligible for replacement benefits but they would have to apply at their local DSS office in person. An individual who lost power for an extended time during the storm must provide some form of verification to document their home was in an affected area and a food loss was suffered. Such documentation could include a newspaper article, letter from the Red Cross or a food bank, website that showed a power outage map, letter from a landlord, insurance company, or electric utility.
The agency said it is not offering additional Disaster SNAP benefits at this time, simply reimbursing those who lost food in the storm. Only current SNAP beneficiaries are eligible.