On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced that over 2.2 million Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma recently received federal food assistance through the federal United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP).
More resources requested
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll also sent a letter to the USDA requesting increased flexibility and resources in administering the federal DSNAP program in Florida. The department has processed more than 577,000 DSNAP applications that meet the federal requirements and more than $836 million in federal food assistance has been distributed between DSNAP and SNAP supplements across Florida. This will help more than six million Floridians through SNAP and DSNAP get back on their feet.
DCF has deployed more than 6,000 staff to assist in operations and administration of this federal program, including nearly 1,500 temporary workers, to Food for Florida sites to process applications at 48 sites across 39 counties. While face-to-face interviews are required by the federal FNS to finalize applications for this federal program, DCF developed an online pre-registration tool to ensure the process is as streamlined as possible once people are in our site. For most applicants who pre-registered and applied electronically, DCF has deposited DSNAP funds into their accounts by the next business day.
DCF committed to helping families
“As DCF works through the administration of this federal program, we remain absolutely committed to helping families affected by Hurricane Irma get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Today, to ensure our department has the flexibility we need to serve as many families as possible, I sent a letter to the USDA asking for an extension of the administration of federal DSNAP in Florida.
To return to Miami-Dade and Broward
“DCF will return to Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the coming weeks to ensure every qualifying family has a chance to apply for federal disaster food assistance,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. “This Food for Florida event is a historic undertaking, representing one of the largest federal DSNAP programs in U.S. history and DCF is absolutely prepared to meet the needs of every family in need.
“We understand that many locations are experiencing lines and we will continue to work around the clock processing applications to minimize wait-times and help Florida families recover. To help make sure you are able to move through the application process as quickly as possible, DCF asks that Floridians continue to pre-register online and follow the site guidance.”
Other DCF assistance
In addition to Disaster SNAP, DCF applied for federal food assistance program waivers and provided:
- Early release of food assistance benefits prior to Hurricane Irma making landfall to help families prepare
- Hot Foods Waiver, and a subsequent extension, to allow families to purchase prepared food with their EBT cards at participating retailers
- Extended the time frame to report food loss from 10 to 20 days
- Mass food assistance replacement benefits for September SNAP recipients in 52 counties effected by Hurricane Irma
- Extended October SNAP recertification deadlines for three months
Additional sites will open in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Marion counties to continue to serve residents in these areas. Details will be announced as soon as possible.
Following the conclusion of the Food for Florida program statewide, DCF will conduct a thorough after-action review of all operations.