Choctaw, Sumter Get Help

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Federal agriculture officials have approved replacement food stamp benefits for 10 more Alabama counties to replace food lost because of power outages caused by Hurricane Ivan.

The department approved benefits for Dallas, Hale, Wilcox, Marengo, Montgomery, Lowndes, Choctaw, Sumter, Perry and Greene Counties.

A total of 22 counties have been approved for benefits.

Department of Human Resources commissioner Page Walley said Thursday the benefits will be provided only to current food stamp households that received regular monthly benefits on or before Sept. 15, 2004.

Walley said it is not necessary for recipients to go to the food stamp office. The benefits will be automatically posted to the recipients' Electronic Benefits Transfer account starting immediately.

Walley also noted that the USDA has approved a temporary waiver that will permit recipients to use their benefits to purchase hot foods through Oct. 31, 2004, since the outages have prevented many from being able to cook food at their homes.

Other counties previously announced include Baldwin, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Escambia, Geneva, Mobile, Monroe, Washington and Clarke.