News Releases

January 06, 2009

Governor Unveils New Name for the Food Stamp Program; Kicks Off Implementation of New Eligibility Criteria

30,000 Additional Households May be Eligible for “3Squares VT” Benefits

Berlin, VT— In a kick-off event to mark the roll-out of the Governor’s initiative to expand program eligibility, Governor Jim Douglas, today also unveiled a new name for Vermont’s enhanced Food Stamp Program; beginning today, the program will be known as 3Squares VT.

“3Squares VT is more than just a renamed Food Stamp Program. It is an expanded supplemental nutrition assistance program that can help more hard-working Vermonters than ever put three square meals on their table,” said Governor Douglas. He added, “Calling the program by a more accurate name can help mitigate some of the embarrassment or stigma some applicants might associate with the program. “Food Stamps” no longer correctly describes the program’s current method of operation – actual “food stamps” have not been used to issue benefits since the early 1940s. And in our state, the coupon books that replaced stamps have not been used since 1998 when we began to issue all food benefits through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system or as a direct deposit of cash to the bank account of those aged 65 or receiving SSI.”

The new program name – coupled with expanded eligibility criteria – ushers in a new era in the provision of supplemental nutrition assistance benefits to Vermonters. By taking advantage of federal options to increase the monthly gross income limits, and eliminate the asset test for most potential applicants, more Vermonters than ever may be able to get help with putting three square meals on their tables.

“We’re very excited about this proposal, which gives thousands more Vermont families access to 3Square VT benefits,” said Department of Children and Families Commissioner Steve Dale. “In November, we had nearly 30,200 households (approximately 61,300 individuals) receiving benefits in Vermont. This expansion could allow nearly double that number of households to access the program, or related benefits such as telephone Lifeline and Link Up credits, and free school meals for their children.”

The average household food stamp benefit in June 2008 was $187 per month, and in state fiscal year 2008, Vermont families received a total of nearly $60 million in benefits. The new program expansion could mean an additional $12 million per year in food assistance to low-income Vermont families, which translates into infusing an additional $22 million into the state’s economy.

“Expanded eligibility for 3Squares VT is truly a win-win for low-income Vermonters and their families, and for our state’s economy,” said the Governor. “Every 3Squares VT dollar spent in the state adds an additional 84 cents to boost our state’s economy. It is, simply put, the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”

The Department for Children and Families, which administers 3Squares VT, has recruited and hired limited service benefits eligibility staff to handle the increased caseload as more Vermonters become eligible for the expanded program. For more information on the program, or to get an application, contact the Department for Children and Families, Economic Services Division at 1- 800-287-0589. Or go online to www.vermontfoodhelp.org.

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: January 06, 2009 09:06:40