HELENA — The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is reporting an increase in Montanans opening accounts for public assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan says nearly 5,300 Montanans opened an online account in the last 30 days for SNAP food assistance, health coverage, and more. As of April 29, over 25,000 Montanans have an account with the agency.
The application numbers for SNAP in the first half of April 2020 increased by 70% when compared to March 2020 numbers.
Further, DPHHS has shifted staff to serve clients through the Public Assistance Helpline. Typically, the Helpline handles about 1,000 calls a day. However, during the month of April 2020, the hotline has averaged close to 2,000 calls daily.
“We’re here to put a foundation in place to help families going forward and we’re all in this together. As we move out of this pandemic, we want Montana families to be strong and that’s what we are here for,” says Hogan.
The agency is now offering extended helpline hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is also a call scheduling option where clients can schedule a callback. The number to the Public Assistance Helpline is 1-888-706-1535. To apply/make an account, click here.