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DHSS announces $250 bonus for each local Food Stamp recipient

DHSS logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Great news for all local recipients of the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program (ASNAP) - commonly known as Food Stamps.

Director of the Department of Human and Social Services, Muavaefa’atasi John E. Suisala announced earlier this week on Tuesday, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS), has approved a one-time payment of bonus benefits in the amount of $250 for all recipients of the ASNAP — or Food Stamp — Program.

“This one-time payment will not only provide supplemental nutrition assistance for our elderly, blind, and disabled population, but will also infuse close to a million dollars into the local economy,” said Muavaefaatasi in a statement.

The $250 bonus payments will be distributed starting next Tuesday, September 3rd by alphabetical order, for ease of distribution.

Recipients are reminded that since the one-time payment is paid using unused funds for the current fiscal year, the bonus food coupons must be spent by or before September 30, 2019.

Director Muavaefa’atasi expressed gratitude to the Food and Nutrition Service, Western Region administrator, Jesus Mendoza and his staff for their continued support of the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program (ASNAP), and their “understanding of an ongoing need for food assistance for our vulnerable population.”

The DHSS director also urges all those who will receive this one-time bonus payment to spend their extra dollars wisely, by purchasing healthy foods for better health outcomes.

Samoa News, upon being told the great news, shared the information with several local food stamp recipients, who collectively expressed their gratitude for the ‘extra’ coupons they will be receiving next week.

One recipient said her whole family depends on her monthly food stamp coupons to purchase bulk items that are rationed out throughout the month — items such as rice, sugar, cases of chicken, and eggs.

In addition to imported edibles, the Food Stamp program now also allots a certain amount of monthly food coupons to purchase only ‘local foods’, including bananas and locally grown produce.

Since ASNAP kicked off its 25th anniversary celebration last month, a tent outside the Food Stamp office has become a common occurrence during mass issuance, selling locally grown items that can be purchased with food stamp coupons.

When Samoa News ran into Muavaefaatasi last month, he mentioned that the produce sales at the DHSS compound on the first week of every month will be an ongoing thing, to promote healthy eating and also to support local farmers.

The following is the schedule of mass issuance of ASNAP benefits for September:

•Tuesday, September 3, 2019 – recipients with last names beginning with the letters: M, N, O, P, Q, R

•Wednesday, September 4, 2019 – recipients with last names beginning with the letters: S, V, W, X, Y, Z

•Thursday, September 5, 2019 – recipients with last names beginning with the letters: T & U

•Friday, September 6, 2019 – recipients with last names beginning with the letters: A, B, C, D, E, F

•Monday, September 9, 2019 – recipients with last names beginning with the letters, G, H, I, J, K, L

For more information, please contact the ASNAP office at 633-7720.