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State to safeguard families on food stamps

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently announced plans to use federal energy dollars to keep 50,000 low-income families in Connecticut from going hungry. The news comes after President Barack Obama this month signed into law a Farm Bill that trims food stamp programs nationally.

The state plans to use $1.4 million of its federal energy assistance funding to preserve approximately $66.6 million annually in food stamp benefits for households in Connecticut, said Ben Barnes, state office of policy and management secretary, in a written statement.

The Farm Bill this year increases the amount of direct cash benefit a household must have in order to be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamp benefits. Under the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the state Department of Social Services will increase the standard utility allowance benefit per household from $1 to $20.01 by March 15.

“This will help ensure that current beneficiaries eligible for this portion of the SNAP benefit, nearly 50,000 of the total enrollment of 227,000 in Connecticut, are not negatively impacted and new enrollees are able to receive a higher amount of federal SNAP benefits,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby in a written statement.

Nationally, 850,000 SNAP recipients could lose a major portion of their food stamp benefits if states fail to meet new standards of the law under the 2014 Farm Bill. The bill also outlines plans to expand federal crop insurance and end direct government payments to farmers.

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