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$13.5M in SNAP benefit replacements for Cumberland Co.

AUGUSTA, ME— The Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Office for Family Independence (OFI) announced that this weekend it will automatically issue an estimated $13.5 million benefit replacement following the wind and rainstorm that knocked out power to much of the state for several days in mid-December. This is the first emergency waiver Maine has received since the ice storm of 1998 which was similar in its impact on power and people across the state. 

 Under a federal waiver approved on January 5, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit recipients who live in storm-affected areas will automatically receive a replacement benefit totaling 60 percent of their December benefit this Saturday, January 13, 2024. Over 76,000 households across Maine will benefit from the replacement funds. This is in addition to the over 5,000 households that applied and already received funds to replace food lost to power outages and other storm-related challenges. Households that have already received requested replacement benefits or benefits equal to or greater than 60 percent of their December allotment will not receive the automatic benefit replacement. 

The SNAP benefit will be applied to EBT-accounts this weekend for people enrolled in the program in all 14 counties named in the December 19, 2023 state of civil emergency declared by Governor Janet Mills. SNAP recipients in 34 towns in Cumberland and York Counties that had more than 50 percent of customers without power for four or more hours will also receive the replacement funds.

 “This replacement assistance will help Maine families recover from the December storm that left hundreds of thousands of residents without refrigerators, freezers, and easy access to affordable food,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “This is part of our mission to support health and safety as we adapt to an increased number of damaging storms.” 

“In times of crisis, such as natural disasters, the importance of SNAP cannot be overstated for Mainers facing food insecurity,” said Amy Gallant, vice president of public policy for Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine. “The charitable food network cannot end hunger alone and SNAP, along with its replacement benefits, serves as a crucial lifeline, providing support to individuals and families navigating the aftermath of these unpredictable events.” 

Maine DHHS’ Office for Family Independence requested and received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to access federal funds to replace food bought with benefits issued for December. FNS set the amount at 60 percent of December issuances to account for the proportion of food that was not yet purchased prior to the storm, may not have been perishable, or that may have been consumed prior to the storm. Other states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, have used this type of assistance to support residents in the wake of natural disasters.

Prior to receiving this approval from FNS, Maine DHHS encouraged people in need of this support to submit a loss replacement form for replacement benefits. While that manual process will continue through January 18, 2024, the approved automatic benefit replacement will ensure that all impacted Maine people and families immediately receive the replacement funds without having to file paperwork or complete online forms. Given the change in the process, SNAP benefit recipients should be aware of the following:

If you already submitted a SNAP benefit replacement request and were issued your requested replacement benefits for this storm, you will not receive additional benefits as part of this issuance.

If you submitted a request that has not yet been processed:

You will receive the 60 percent replacement if you are in a covered area.

OFI will continue to process your request and issue additional replacement benefits as appropriate.

Requests for replacement benefits will be accepted by OFI through January 18, 2024.

If the monetary value of the food lost was in excess of the 60 percent automated replacement, OFI will issue an additional replacement benefit as appropriate.

SNAP recipients should fill out a simple form (PDF) available on the DHHS website at and email it to Paper forms are also available at local DHHS offices.

Maine residents can find information on other supports at Maine Flood Resources and Assistance Hub.

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