DHS Releases SNAP and Med-QUEST Assistance Data – Keeps Pace with Continual Rise in Applications

Posted on Aug 29, 2020 in Featured, NEWS


August 28, 2020


Department Keeps Pace with Continual Rise in Applications

Honolulu, Hawai’i – The Hawai’i Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced updated SNAP and Med-QUEST application and enrollment information, highlighting the exponential increase of indivduals and households in need of safetynet services amid COVID-19.

“Since February, the Department anticipated that this pandemic would heavily impact vulnerable populations, to include those who would lose their jobs and have their livelihoods threatened. DHS has taken aggressive and proactive measures to provide food and financial assistance for those we serve,” said Director Pankaj Bhanot. “We transitioned from providing a paper SNAP/Financial application prior to COVID-19, to an online application that has helped increase client access and ensure timeliness of benefit issuance.”

SNAP Benefits

In 2019, there was an average of $37 million in SNAP benefits per month. Since March 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19, there is now an average of $58 million in SNAP benefits per month.

Total SNAP Recipients by Month in 2020 (vs 2019)

July 2019 = 154,669
July 2020 = 176,516 (Percentage increase 2019 vs 2020 = 14%)

DHS strives to conduct initial interviews within 7 – 10 days of receipt of application.

Average time to receive a new EBT card = 2-3 days/ replacement EBT card = 3 – 5 days

 SNAP Supplement in Hawaii

Since March 2020, the SNAP Emergency Supplements have helped more than 60,000 households with more than $56 million for individuals and families in need.


Pandemic EBT Food Assistance for Students in Hawaii

More than 93,500 students who receive free or reduced-price meals in Hawaii have received, or will soon receive, $360 each in food assistance. That equates to $33,437,250 in food assistance support.

 “As the number of daily COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the need is even greater for our safety net of services to continue,” said Deputy Director Cathy Betts. “The recent increase in Medicaid enrollment is a clear indication that access to medical assistance is a critical part of these services.”


 QUEST Applications Received March through Saturday, August 22, 2020 (2019 vs 2020)

2019: 33,720

2020: 45,042 (Percentage increase in applications 2019 vs 2020  =34%)

QUEST Applications Approved March through Monday, August 24, 2020

2020: 42,348 (Percentage approved during this time period = 94%)

QUEST Total Enrollment 2019 vs 2020 snapshot

August 2, 2019 = 332,209

August 3, 2020 = 369,467

Percentage increase in enrollment 2019 vs 2020 = 11.22%

Average time to process:  1-2 days average



Media Contact:
Amanda Stevens, Public Information Officer