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GOOD NEWS: DHSS announces increase in food stamp income eligibility standards

USDA Western Regional Administrator Jesus Mendoza (4th from left) with DHSS director Muavaefaatasi John E. Suisala (4th from right) and his staff in

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), has approved an increase in the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program (ASNAP) income eligibility standards for American Samoa’s elderly, blind, and disabled residents to qualify for monthly supplemental nutrition assistance benefits - or food stamps.

The announcement was made yesterday by Muavaefa’atasi John Edward Suisala, director of the ASG Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS), which administers the food stamp program.

Starting October 1, 2019, the income limit will increase from $1,008 to $1,718. “This means that any elderly, blind, or disabled individual who earns $1,718 in monthly gross income or less, qualifies for monthly ASNAP benefits,” said Muavaefa’atasi. In addition, program participants must also meet non-financial criteria that include residency requirements (i.e., US citizens, US nationals and certain categories of legal aliens).

“I am extremely happy that FNS approved our request to increase the ASNAP income eligibility standards, following the ASNAP budget negotiation meetings with them in July 2019”, Muavaefa’atasi said.

He added, “The increase in ASNAP income eligibility limit will allow for more individuals to qualify for monthly supplemental food assistance, especially individuals who meet non-financial requirements but were denied assistance because of excessive income.”

Muavaefa’atasi encourages everyone who was denied — due to excessive income — to come in and re-apply for ASNAP benefits if their monthly gross income is $1,718 or less.

With the increase in income limit, ASNAP’s monthly benefit levels will now change as follows, effective Tuesday, October 1, 2019:

Gross monthly income:        Monthly Benefits:

$0 - $343                                          $139

$344 - $687                                     $111

$688 - $1,032                                  $89

$1,033 - $1,375                               $71

$1,376 - $1,718                               $56

Muavaefa’atasi extends his appreciation and gratitude to USDA FNS Western Regional Administrator Jesus Mendoza; Western Regional SNAP Branch Chief Melissa Baker; Lead Program Specialist Jodi Gonzalez; and the USDA FNS National and Western Regional management team and staff for their continued support “by approving this increase in benefit limit for American Samoa’s elderly, blind and disabled population to qualify for supplemental nutrition assistance.”