INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana plans to offer more government services as the state sees the number of people seeking assistance skyrocket amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Normally, about 1 in 5 people have state assistance. Applications have increased 75 percent since mid-March, state officials reported Monday.
Jennifer Sullivan, secretary for Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said that applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications, or food stamps, is up 253 percent. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or cash assistance, is up 209 percent. People seeking state healthcare coverage is up 10 percent.
By the end of March, 5,413 families were receiving TANF; 285,058 families were receiving SNAP and the Healthy Indiana Plan had 450,329 members.
Indiana is able to distribute pandemic electronic benefit transfer funds to households that already use food stamps and families with one or more children who had access to free and reduced lunch before schools closed, Sullivan said.
In mid-May, high-risk populations, such as the elderly, will be able to get their groceries delivered through their SNAP benefits. Sullivan said that this will reduce potential exposure to the virus and remove food access hurdles, including travel and transportation.
Sullivan noted that these efforts “are safe and will not be discontinued during the public health emergency.”
“In these circumstances where we have asked people to stay home, to do business differently or not at all,” Sullivan said, “we as a state have to provide support to them differently, as well.”