437 Taipei City families eligible for food vouchers: mayor

Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) A total of 437 families in Taipei City are eligible to each receive NT$5,000 (US$144) in the first batch of food vouchers to be issued by the city government March 1 to households in urgent need, Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin announced Tuesday.
After city officials and social workers interviewed 531 families, 437 households, or 82.3 percent of those interviewed, were approved by the municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs to receive the food vouchers in the first delivery of its kind, Hau said at a news conference following a municipal meeting.
According to Hau, a total of 1,134 families applied to claim the subsidy after the Taipei city government unveiled the plan Jan. 22 to help families hard hit by the economic downturn.
The bureau is planning to deliver NT$5,000 worth of food vouchers to each of 10,000 households in the initial stage of the program that will last until Dec. 31 this year, bureau officials said. In the follow-up stages, more families experiencing financial difficulties could be included, they added.
Families residing in Taipei City, but not necessarily with household registrations here, will be eligible to receive the food vouchers, as long as they are identified by their local borough chiefs as being in need of assistance and recommended by the city officials and social workers conducting the interviews.
The coupons will be a one-time handout and can only be spent on food such as lunch boxes, bread and rice balls, at Family Mart convenience stores. They cannot be used to purchase cigarettes, alcoholic beverages or magazines.
The economic downturn has resulted in many people in Taiwan losing their jobs, with parents of school-aged children being the worst affected.
(By Flor Wang)