***For Immediate Release***
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Contact: Magdalena Cazarez
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
O: (402) 438-8853 ext 119
C: (402) 504-0074
Thousands of Nebraskans left in limbo awaiting SNAP benefits
Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services delays implementation of LB 108
Lincoln, NE — On May 26, 2021, the Unicameral passed Legislative Bill (LB) 108, expanding eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Nebraska by addressing the “cliff effect”. After nearly a decade of community advocacy and support, thousands of Nebraskans can now take home small increases in income without fear of losing essential food benefits. The law passed with an ‘emergency clause,’ which requires the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to implement LB 108 immediately. However, DHHS claims that due to system limitations, applications will not be processed with the new eligibility criteria until July 11, 2021, and benefits will not be disbursed until after July 26, 2021.
Nebraska Appleseed’s Economic Justice Program Manager for Food and Nutrition Access, Eric Savaiano, issued the following statement:
“This law was intended to help Nebraskans, especially as they recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic. By delaying implementation, those trying to reenter the workforce are at risk of immediately losing SNAP eligibility. Holding back essential food benefits for nearly two months can feel like a lifetime for many struggling to feed themselves and their loved ones, especially as pandemic assistance like extended unemployment insurance benefits end.
While we understand that DHHS is in the process of making systems changes, it is the agency’s obligation to find ways to process applications under the new law while those changes are made. We urge the Department to implement this law immediately, as the law requires, and provide critical support for those who are struggling to get ahead and ensure that our family members, friends, and neighbors are able to put food on the table. Pausing implementation until the end of July is not going to help Nebraskans who are hungry now.”
Omaha community member, Schmeeka Simpson, shares her experience:
“For every dollar you make, you lose five when you’re losing these services. That’s what the cliff effect did to me. This just makes it harder for people wanting to do better. No one dreams of being poor. This is not what we wanted. We never wanted to use these services to begin with, but now that we have them and we use them, we need to be able to ease people off of them instead of penalizing people for needing them to begin with.
What I would really like is for DHHS, Governor Pete Ricketts, and the state of Nebraska to show that they care about us, particularly after a pandemic that has emaciated our economy and shut down businesses. We need help more than we’ve ever needed it.”
To check if you’re eligible for benefits and to apply, Nebraskans can call the Food Bank of Lincoln’s SNAP Outreach Hotline at 855-444-5556.