GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Thousands of people still suffering from Hurricane Irma turned out at the Clay County Fairgrounds on Saturday trying to get food stamps at a Food for Florida event that some had to be turned away.
Saturday's crowd was so large, traffic on State Road 16 near the fairgrounds became an issue. News4Jax was told it took drivers in the area 90 minutes to go 1 mile.
The Florida Department of Children and Families is hosting these Disaster SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) sites across the state for people who lost food during Hurricane Irma. To qualify, people must have lived or worked in a county included in the federal disaster areas on Sept. 5 and not be enrolled in the regular food-stamp program.
"Yesterday, I think the highway got a little backed up, so we worked with law enforcement to open the highways up so we didn't cause issues on the highways," DCF spokeswoman Patricia Medlock said. "But today (Sunday), it’s open. We’re not going to turn anybody away as long as you live inside the county, unless it gets bad again."
People are strongly encouraged to preregister online a least one day in advance to allow for faster processing of your application on site.
One EBT card per eligible household will be issued, so only the applicant needs to visit the local Food for Florida site in person. Additional individuals attending may contribute to longer lines and extended service times.
"It’s moving pretty good today," Orange Park resident Anthony White said. "I was out here the other day and I had to leave it was so long."
Other Food for Florida event locations, times
Because of the volume of people applying, service at each site is organized by the first letter of recipient's last name.
Duval, Nassau counties - Regency Square Mall, Suite 260, Jacksonville
10/11 – A - D
10/12 – E - H
10/13 – I - L
10/14 – M – P
10/15 – Q - T
10/16 – U - Z
10/17 – Make-up day
St. Johns, Flagler counties - St. Augustine Fairgrounds, 5840 State Road 207, Elkton
10/11 – A - F
10/12 – G - J
10/13 – K - O
10/14 – P - Z
10/15 – Make-up day
Baker, Columbia counties - Parkview Baptist Church, 268 NW Lake Jeffery Road, Lake City
10/20 – A - F
10/21 – G - J
10/22 – K - O
10/23 – P - Z
10/24 – Make-up day
Unless otherwise noted, sites will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In addition to the Clay County event, which ended Sunday, Alachua, Bradford and Union counties events were held late last month.