Updated March 19 2021.
Previous COVID-19 response legislation strengthened our food supply chain, and helped families in need put food on the table. The American Rescue Plan built on those efforts by providing $12 billion to hungry families in need through important nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, Pandemic EBT, and senior nutrition services. The Plan extended the current 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021, funds fruits and vegetable outreach and innovation in WIC, and ensures the Pandemic-EBT program will be available for the duration of the pandemic, including over the summer while children are out of school.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
SNAP benefits have received an emergency increase of 15 percent for all participants – an average of $27 more per month for each participant. The American Rescue Plan extended this increase through September 30, 2021.
How to Apply:
First time applicants can now apply for benefits online here.
If you are unable to apply online, this form, once completed and signed, can be mailed or dropped off at a processing center drop box (locations found here).
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has waived the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) work requirements for SNAP, so applicants do not currently need to re-file applications.
Please follow the link here to access the Hawaii Department of Health site on SNAP for more information.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC):
WIC vouchers for fruits and vegetables are increased to $35 per month for four months under the American Rescue Plan, and Hawaii has received ongoing waivers to allow WIC families to purchase a range of sizes for certain products. To see the list of size options available, see WIC Hawaii’s website.
How to Apply:
In Hawaii, WIC applicants are able to receive support and services without requiring the applicant’s physical presence. Prospective recipients can check for eligibility using this tool, but to officially verify eligibility please contact your local WIC clinic location directly by phone. Contact information can be found here.
In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, WIC participants are now allowed to receive their benefits remotely. For those who already have an eWIC EBT card, benefits will be loaded automatically. For those still receiving Food Instruments (paper vouchers), benefit offices will be verifying your mailing address and sending vouchers via mail.
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT):
Families with children who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year are eligible to receive food purchasing assistance. Hawaii Department of Human Services proactively contacted eligible families regarding these benefits for the 2020-2021 school year. On January 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased P-EBT benefit amounts by 15%. For more information on P-EBT see the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ website here.
Nutrition Assistance for Seniors:
The American Rescue Plan provided $750 million for nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act – like Meals on Wheels and congregate feeding programs – and $37 million for food boxes for seniors through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
To qualify to participate in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, you must be at least 60 years of age and provide documentation showing that they reside in the service area they’re applying for and that their monthly household income is at or below 130% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines for the State of Hawaii. For an individual household, the threshold is $1,557.83, and for a two-person household, total income must be at or below $2,108.17.
How To Apply:
You can apply to CSFP through the nonprofit organization that serves your county:
Hawaii County: The Food Basket – apply here
Maui County: Maui Food Bank – apply here
Kauai County: Hawaii Foodbank – apply here
City & County of Honolulu: Hawaii Foodbank – apply here
Hawaii’s Executive Office on Aging has put together a comprehensive guide to the services available to seniors and other high-risk populations. The guide can be found here. For additional assistance, contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center at (808) 643-2372.
Hawaii Meals on Wheels has been delivering to their most vulnerable clients and transitioning other clients to packaged, frozen meals. Updates on the program can be found here. For questions or concerns, contact Meals on Wheels between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Sunday at (808) 988-6747.