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Connecticut aims to expand eligibility for food assistance program

More people in Connecticut can now qualify for the state's food assistance program. That’s because the state is expanding eligibility based on monthly income.

Officials believe that about 44,000 additional Connecticut residents could be eligible for benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Dan Giacomi, Connecticut’s SNAP director, addressed state officials and lawmakers at a meeting Monday.

He said the expanded benefits will help families with children the most, since enrollment in SNAP automatically means enrollment for free school meals and assistance with energy payments.

“Just by allowing these 44,000 individuals to receive SNAP, we’ve now opened up the door to them going out and receiving other programs themselves,” Giacomi said.

Connecticut’s SNAP program serves more than 220,000 households, including more than 135,000 children.

Under the expanded eligibility, Connecticut residents will qualify for SNAP if their monthly gross income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level – that’s $2,265 for a single person and $4,625 for a four-person household, state officials said. That’s an increase from the benefit level of 185% of the federal poverty level – or $1,986 for a single person and $4,086 for a four-person household.

“By continuing our partnership with the federal government, actions like this will help in our efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity," Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.

SNAP participants in Connecticut and beyond will also see a 12% increase in their benefits because of inflation.

“Because of the rising cost of groceries and inflation in the summer period, we’re seeing a larger than normal increase in the amount of SNAP benefits individuals in Connecticut and nationwide are able to receive each month,” Giacomi said.

Samuel Pappas is the Fall 2022 Gwen Ifill Integrity in Journalism Intern. He assists the Accountability Project Investigative News Team.

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