Lifeline cell phones to be offered at libraries

Recognizing that access to telephone service is essential for finding a job, connecting with family, or getting help in an emergency, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) established the Lifeline program 25 years ago.

In January 2012, the commission approved comprehensive reform and modernization of Lifeline, allowing distribution of free cell phones to those who are income eligible.

Lifeline-supported free cell phones will be distributed at two library location in Anoka County. While held in library meeting rooms, this is not a library sponsored program.

There will be a distribution at the Rum River Library, 4201 Sixth Ave. N., Anoka, Saturday, June 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and at the Columbia Heights Public Library, 820 40th Ave. N.E, Columbia Heights, Thursday, June 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To qualify for the program, individuals must show proof of being on one of the following programs:

• Temporary Assistance to needy Families (TANF)

• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

• Food stamps

• Medicaid

• Senior citizen low-income discount plan (offered by the local gas or power company)

• Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)

• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Individuals must also bring a government-issued picture ID with them, showing their current address.

The Lifeline-supported wireless service in Minnesota consists of the following:

• A free wireless cell phone

• Activation of service without a fee or contract of any kind

• No monthly charge

• Up to 250 minutes of airtime each and every month at no charge. If the 250-minute monthly limit is reached, phone service is suspended and users have a choice of either waiting until their next billing cycle or buying a prepaid card to add minutes.

There is a limit of one free wireless cell phone per household address and a limit of one Lifeline service per household.

If an individual is already benefiting from discounted landline phone service through the Lifeline program, they are not eligible to receive a free wireless phone.

For more information about eligibility and the program, visit