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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

COVID-19 Relief Bill Will Help Feed Montanans, Bullock Says

A box of food donations

Montana will use federal aid money to bolster residents' access to food during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, according to Gov. Steve Bullock.

“No Montanan should have to worry about putting food on the table for themselves and their families, especially during a global pandemic," he said.

During his Friday press conference, Bullock listed several changes made possible by the massive $2 trillion emergency coronavirus spending bill signed into law last month.

The bill allows for a doubling of the U.S. Department of Agriculture food shipments for pantries, tribal governments and senior centers. The food will be available at no cost for those needing short-term hunger relief.

Additionally, the interviews normally needed to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be waived. SNAP benefits will renew automatically, and the USDA is being asked to provide maximum food assistance available for SNAP-eligible families in April and May.

"So more than 52,000 Montanan households are expected to receive the maximum available food assistance," Bullock explained.

On the state level, Montana is making it easier for new mothers to access it's Women, Infants and Children nutritional program by phone. The program will also have a bit more flexibility. For example, if a store sells out of 2-percent milk, the waiver would allow whole or skim milk to qualify as a substitute.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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