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No Touch Food Drive Will Help Those Affected By Pandemic As SNAP Online Food Purchasing Rolls Out



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In the spirit of giving and receiving that has Newtown residents thinking more about things they are grateful for, this weekend provides an opportunity for residents to help those who may be pressed into a situation of food insecurity because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ben’s Lighthouse is hosting a drive-up, no contact food drive for FAITH Food Pantry on Sunday, May 24, from 9 am to 1 pm, in the rear bus loop at Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane. Anyone driving up should stay in their vehicle, and a volunteer will handle getting the donations from the trunk or the back.

The pantry is in particular need of beef stew, canned chili, or sloppy joe mix; baked beans and canned tomatoes; pasta and pasta sauce; macaroni and cheese; canned fruit; rice and packaged rice and pasta dishes; peanut butter and jelly; cookies and crackers; cereals; bottled juices; brownie mix, cookie mix and cake mixes; pet food; toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner; toilet paper, laundry soap, hand soap; liquid dish soap; and coffee.

Those who prefer to make cash donations can do so online through Paypal using an existing account or credit card by CLICKING HERE

Any resident of Newtown or Sandy Hook who is in need of food assistance is encouraged to call FAITH at 203-837-0816.

On Friday, Governor Ned Lamont reminded Connecticut residents who need help paying last winter’s home heating bills that there is still time to apply to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP). An extended application deadline of Monday, June 1, gives eligible families and individuals — including those impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency — more time to apply for this vital assistance.

“Even though we are well into spring, we want to remind everyone that there’s still time to apply for assistance to pay for your home heating bills for the last winter season,” Lamont said. “I want to thank the Department of Social Services and the dedicated staff of Connecticut’s community action agencies and partners for their work on behalf of so many children, families, older and other adults who need assistance.”

Social Services Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford said CEAP is an “an important public-private partnership that safeguards tens of thousands of vulnerable Connecticut households from the cold each year.

“It also helps residents who are behind on their utility heating bills and may be at risk of a shutoff at some point,” she added.

Connecticut residents are welcome to apply, regardless of whether their home is heated through electricity, natural gas, or a deliverable fuel. If the household’s primary heat source is electricity or natural gas, the basis benefit award is sent directly to the utility company.

If a household’s primary heat source is a deliverable fuel (oil, kerosene, propane, or coal), a retroactive payment or credit to their fuel vendor for deliveries made between November 13, 2019, and April 30, 2020, may be possible up to the amount of their basic benefit award.

Home heating benefits are available for households with incomes up to 60 percent of the state median income (currently $36,171 for a single person and $69,559 for a household of four). A liquid asset eligibility check also applies. Payments are issued directly to fuel vendors and utility companies on behalf of eligible households.

Emergency funding is also available to repair or replace unsafe or inoperable heating systems for single-family, owner-occupied homes with incomes up to 60 percent of the state median income. A heating system must be deemed as unsafe or inoperable by a licensed heating vendor to be considered.

Applicants should contact the community action agency serving their region, or partnering intake sites around the state. To find the nearest application site, people should call 211 or visit ct.gov/staywarm.

Newtown residents can also reach the Human Services office at 203-270-4330, or the Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut Danbury area office at 203-748-5422.

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, households will also be advised how to complete applications remotely through a mail-in process or over the phone.

SNAP & Unemployment News

The Connecticut Department of Social Services is working with the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the state’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) vendor, and participating food retailers to implement SNAP online purchasing in Connecticut.

Federal approval of the state’s plan was received May 20, and system testing is scheduled to be completed on May 29. The beginning of online food purchasing is tentatively scheduled for June 2.

When activated, enrollees will be able to use SNAP benefits on their EBT card to purchase eligible food items online for delivery or curbside pickup at participating food retailers.

Participating food retailers to start are Amazon, including Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh; 12 Walmart stores including New Haven and Waterbury; and Wakefern Food Corp, which has 22 participating ShopRite stores including the Southbury location at 775 Main Street South (Southbury Green), and the Danbury location at 1 Padanaram Road (North Street Shopping Center).

Based on successful system testing, online SNAP access is currently scheduled to begin on Tuesday, June 2, with all participating outlets online by June 3. A full schedule and contact points will be announced closer to June 2.

For more information about SNAP in Connecticut, CLICK HERE

The Connecticut Department of Labor on Friday also announced it was planning to mail instruction letters to approximately 77,000 individuals in the state who have been identified as potentially eligible to apply for 13 weeks of emergency extended unemployment benefits.

Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said that the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) included an extension of the 26 weeks of regular state unemployment insurance to 39 weeks through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.

PEUC could be retroactive to March 29, 2020, and will be in effect through December 26, 2020. Weekly PEUC benefits are based on wage history using the same formula for determining state unemployment insurance benefit amounts. It also includes the additional $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit.

The notifications will include instructions on steps that potentially eligible claimants will need to follow to receive the emergency extended benefits.

For more information and step-by-step instructions CLICK HERE

Executive Order & DMV Update

Late Thursday, Lamont signed his 45th Executive Order No. 7RR enacting the following provisions:

Authority for DEEP to issue rental refunds: Authorizes the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to reimburse funds that were collected from rent paid by any person for use of state park property, including for camping or any special event.

Modification of age limit for early intervention coverage: Requires health insurance policies to continue providing coverage for birth to three programs after a child’s third birthday in the event that school closures may delay a child’s transition to other services for older children.

Waiver of requirement for guest books at private clubs: Waives the statutory requirement that private clubs maintain guest books to reduce shared points of contact.

Also on Thursday, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced that as the state continues responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, its previously enacted 90-day extension for Connecticut residents with expiring credentials is being extended to a total of 180 days. Eligible DMV credentials that expire between March 10 and June 30 are automatically covered by this extension.

In addition to extending the expiration date of DMV credentials, late fees associated with eligible expired credentials will be waived during the time period of the extension for qualifying credentials. Deadlines have been extended for nearly two dozen DMV-related items including:

*All Licenses, Permits, and Identification Cards: Lengthens the credential extension to 180 days for credentials that expire between March 10 and June 30, 2020.

*All Registrations Including International Registration Plan (IRP) and Boat Registrations: For credentials expiring between March 10 and June 30, 2020, credentials will be extended by 180 days from the expiration date.

*Emissions Testing and Retesting: For test due dates that fall between March 10 and June 30, 2020, the due date will be extended by 180 days from the emissions expiration date.

*Temporary Registrations: Temporary registrations obtained after March 10 are extended by 180 days.

*Temporary (Paper) Licenses: Expiration dates will be extended by 180 days for all temporary (paper) licenses obtained after March 10.

*New Residents: For any person who moved to Connecticut after March 10, the deadline for obtaining a license, registration, or emissions inspection in Connecticut will be extended by 180 days.

*Ignition Interlock Devices: Waives violations and penalties associated with failing to meet 30-day recalibration of ignition interlock devices until September 10, 2020.

For updates and more information about the DMV credential extensions, call 860-263-5700 or 800-842-8222 or CLICK HERE.

Anyone in crisis or facing issues making ends meet or experiencing stress or anxiety can also call the 211 infoline or consult its companion website 211ct.org.

For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ, other guidance and resources, and a way to ask questions, Newtown residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.

The Newtown Bee is continuing to provide and mirror information and messages coming from local and state agencies on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Newtown residents can get more details by visiting Newtown’s own COVID-19 web page, at newtown-ct.gov.

Residents can also review all prior COVID-19 updates and follow the newspaper’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages for breaking local news and advisories.

Please check in regularly, share, and follow the newspaper’s hyper local coverage at newtownbee.com through the remainder of this public health emergency.

A customer wearing face protection exits Newtown Hardware one recent afternoon. Public health officials from Newtown’s Health District to the CDC have credited the widespread adoption of face protections by members of the public as a primary tool for reducing COVID-19 transmissions along with maintaining proper distancing, hand washing, and frequent disinfecting. —Bee Photo, Hicks
A sign posted near the entrance of South Main Marketplace sends thanks to “All You Heroes.”   —Bee Photo, Hicks
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