Local ASNAP stores to get advance notice when new EBT coupons are distributed
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa’s State Plan to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) Program, by the Human and Social Service Department’s American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program (ASNAP) includes advance notice to wholesale and authorized retails stores so they can order food supplies in advance. It also includes plans for a public awareness campaign and media outreach.
Through P-EBT, eligible school children receive temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards that are used to purchase food.
Since the news of the new program was released, there have been questions from local ASNAP authorized retail stores on plans by DHSS/ASG to inform them in advance of the P-EBT distribution so that there is sufficient time to order off island additional food supplies, as there remains a delay of incoming container vessels.
Another question is how the retail stores are able to differential the P-EBT from other food coupons issued by ASNAP.
According to the plan, American Samoa’s estimated total number of children in public and privates schools covered in the P-EBT is 14,038 and total estimate amount of P-EBT benefits to be issued with in the plan’s date range is just over $7.42 million. The plan also outlines the roles of the local Education Department (ASDOE) and DHSS.
In addition, ASNAP will be issuing the P-EBT benefits in the form of paper coupons — which will have the name “Pandemic EBT” printed on the front of the coupon to differentiate from the ASNAP, COVID-NAP and COVID-SNAP coupons that are currently being issued. The ‘color’ of the P-EBT food coupon will also be different from the others currently issued by ASNAP.
And there’s also plans to launch an outreach and media campaign through public announcements through television, radio and social media as well as live interviews on television and radio.
American Samoa also promised in its plan to “comply with all applicable benefit issuance reporting requirements.”
The 22-page plan was signed by Education director Talauega Dr. Samasoni Asaeli and Human and Social Service director, Muavaefa’atasi John Suisala and approved Aug. 16th the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
The territory’s plan covers the period from Aug. 31st to Dec. 18th 2020 and February 1st to 12, 2021 as well as the standard 55-days of summer of 2021. Additionally, eligibility determination and benefit calculations will be retroactive to all qualified children, according to the plan.
The Governor’s Office issued a news release on Aug. 19th announcing the approval of American Samoa P-EBT plan to children who lost access to free meals at school due to schools being closed, reduced attendance hours or when virtual learning was underway.
It also says that DHSS will announce in the coming days and weeks how families may apply for P-EBT benefits with other pertinent information that includes the dates and locations where applications will be accepted; timeline for the issuance of benefits; retail stores to use their food coupons and expiration dates of P-EBT benefits. (See Samoa News online edition Aug. 20th for details.)
The public release of the territory’s plan and approval letters are in accordance with provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which authorizes the US Secretary of Agriculture to “release of information necessary to carry out P-EBT in American Samoa.”
The approval letters are available on this online link provided by FNS Western Regional at [https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19/american-samoa].