Nassau's legislative minority leader, Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), is requesting that County Executive Ed Mangano enroll Nassau in a federal disaster program that would extend temporary food stamp benefits to residents normally not eligible for the program but affected by superstorm Sandy.
So far only Westchester County has requested a waiver from the state to participate in the federal Disaster SNAP/Food Stamp Program, which is available to storm-ravaged counties, said Marc Kaplan, spokesman for the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
In a letter to sent to Mangano on Wednesday, Abrahams wrote that the program would allow residents receiving the temporary benefits to then "use their personal funds for other important disaster-related needs."
"We're just trying to ensure if there's an opportunity to increase access to the benefits for storm-impacted residents, we go after it," Abrahams said in a phone interview.
Nassau Department of Social Services spokeswoman Karen Garber said the agency does not plan on participating in the program after determining that the eligibility requirements for the temporary food stamp benefits was not that far off from the criteria for regular benefits.
Under the current rules, an applicant's income cannot exceed 130 percent of the federal poverty line, or $2,498 in monthly income for a family of four. Under the disaster food stamp program, the threshold would be $2,550 for a family of four.
Garber said the decision was reached before Abrahams wrote to Mangano and could not say "if the letter is going to cause a different determination moving forward."
Suffolk County is still considering whether to opt into the program, said DSS spokesman Roland Hampson, noting that the application process requires documentation of loss estimates, and many areas such as Fire Island, Lindenhurst and the Mastics still do not have power for residents to conduct a full damage assessment.