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New application for SNAP won’t require an email address, health dept. says

Graphic: Montana news from Montana Public Radio

The Montana health department says it’s developing a new way to apply for the state food assistance program online that doesn’t require an email address.

MTPR first reported in September that a recent change to the state website account system locked the application for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program behind a requirement that users verify their email address. U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines prohibit states from requiring an email address to apply for food assistance online.

Jon Ebelt, a spokesperson with the state health department, told MTPR in an email the existing application system, which allows users to apply for SNAP and other programs like Medicaid, will remain unchanged. Ebelt says the new, separate application will be for food assistance only.

A representative with the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center told MTPR that food bank staff are still encountering people who struggle to verify their email address, or don’t have an email and can’t apply online.

Ebelt says the email-free SNAP application is expected to go online in early 2023.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.