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TAOA voucher program to be replaced with ‘hot meals’

To comply with U.S. government regulation, the food voucher program for senior citizens in American Samoa will be replaced soon with “hot meals” to be distributed at designated sites, which will be announced soon.


It was just a couple of months ago that the value of the food voucher was increased from $25 to $40 a month, thanks to a local government subsidy, as matching funding included in the fiscal year 2014 budget.


Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) director Ale Tifimalae told Samoa News that discontinuing the food voucher and replacing it with the “hot meals” is to fully comply with federal regulations.


American Samoa is the only state or territory using the food voucher, while the rest of the U.S. and territories have been using hot meals for a long time, Ale said last Friday. He further explained that failing to comply with federal regulations could also put the program on “high risk” status.


TAOA plans to announce soon locations for meetings with seniors to discuss this change, which is being planned for implementation in April or May.  TAOA is looking at requesting support from local churches for the use of their halls for hot meal distribution sites for eastern and western districts as well as the bay area.


When the time comes to implement the hot meals program, Ale says this will be the opportunity for the business community such as restaurants, to cook and prepare the foods for delivery to the designated sites. He says this will be a boost to the private sector.


Currently there are 3,700 senior citizens registered with various programs offered by TAOA and this includes the food voucher program.


See tomorrow’s edition update from the Governor’s Office.