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TRUMPED! U.S. Department of Health and Human Services To Overrule Mapp’s Wishes To Deny D-SNAP To The Territory

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — It’s time to wait in line for your free food stamps! That’s because …

President Donald Trump’s declarations for Hurricanes Irma and Maria apply to the territory as a disaster area.

Additionally, Trump must also declare “Individual Assistance” for the disaster area.

This gives authority to the Virgin Islands to offer the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) locally.

Given that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture — Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) must approve the V.I.’s request to operate a D-SNAP.

The V.I. Department of Human Services (DHS) is currently preparing to offer D-SNAP throughout the territory.

The USVI D-SNAP sites will assist individuals and families at various locations in both districts. In collaboration with the USDA FNS, DHS will be assisting victims who were adversely affected by the two hurricanes.  The details of the D-SNAP will be promoted in upcoming media publications. The program’s eligibility is determined by the following set of criteria.

  1. Applicants must have lived in the affected area at the time of the disaster. On the islands of St. Thomas and St. John hurricane Irma occurred on Sept. 5. Hurricane Maria occurred on Sept. 19 and effected the island of St. Croix as well as St. Thomas and St. John. St. Thomas and St. John residents may apply for D-SNAP under either Irma or Maria.
  2. Individuals applying for the D-SNAP must not already be receiving regular SNAP.
  3. Applicants must have experienced a disaster-related loss, e.g. damage to home, loss of food, reduction or loss of income, or have incurred other disaster-related expenses.
  4. Applicants must meet federally established financial eligibility. The combined “take home pay,” other income and money available in bank accounts, minus disaster related expenses, cannot exceed the federal program limits.

The D-SNAP counts only income received and expenses paid (not reimbursed) during the benefit period.

The benefit period for Hurricane Irma is Sept. 4 through Oct. 3.  The benefit period for Hurricane Maria is Sept. 17 through Oct. 16.  DHS urges all D-SNAP applicants to bring all available supporting documents to facilitate the eligibility process.

Upon approval of D-SNAP for the Virgin Islands, the program will operate for a limited time for residents to apply.

DHS will set the application period.  Those who qualify will receive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

Participating grocery stores must be open to process the electronic payments.  DHS will provide updated information as part of its commitment to service the needs of Virgin Islands residents.

This means that Gov. Kenneth Mapp, despite being declared “the president of the Virgin Islands” will have to defer to President Donald Trump as the ruling power of the territory.


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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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