Governor Ducey requests changes to food assistance program amid COVID-19 outbreak

Governor Ducey requests changes to food assistance program amid COVID-19 outbreak
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - To address the economic challenges Arizonans are facing during the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Doug Ducey wants changes to federal food assistance programs in Arizona that would allow the purchase of hot meals with these benefits and result in timelier approval of eligibility.

The Governor announced today that the state of Arizona has requested permission from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services to implement program changes to expand access to nutritious foods through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Arizona is focused on making sure families impacted by COVID-19 have the assistance and resources they need,” said Governor Ducey. “We want these resources to be easy to access and available for all who need them. We’ll continue working with our partners in the government, non-profit and private sectors to come together and support Arizonans in need.”

”These changes will support Arizonans in getting the benefits they need as quickly as possible,” said Interim Department of Economic Security (DES) Director Tom Betlach. “At the same time, we are protecting SNAP applicants, eligible families and staff by easing administrative burdens and minimizing face-to-face contact to the greatest extent possible.”

Under the waiver, DES will expand Nutrition Assistance benefits and increase access to households. The waiver requests the following:

  • Allow DES to approve applications without eligibility interviews, resulting in quicker and more efficient services
  • Allow all eligible families to purchase prepared and hot meals from grocery stores
  • Waive the work requirements for eligible students while employment opportunities are more scarce
  • Provide to eligible families the maximum allotment allowed for up to two months
  • Extend certification periods by 90 days, saving clients time and ensuring benefits are provided to clients during the pandemic.

In addition to these requests, DES will be pursuing additional waivers for SNAP as well as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to further expand opportunities for families to access benefits and streamline administrative requirements.

More information will be provided once those waiver requests are finalized.

To apply for Nutrition Assistance, Arizonans can visit https://www.healthearizonaplus.gov/ or call (855) 432-7587 Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about DES services during the pandemic, click HERE.

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