300K Floridians receive emergency food aid; thousands continue to apply

Jacksonville, St. Johns County centers remain open for applicants

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In what has become the largest Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) food assistance program in the nation's history, more than 300,000 families who suffered losses from Hurricane Irma have received help, according to the Department of Children and Families.

The need for D-SNAP's aid has been evidenced from long lines that formed at events over the weekend in Clay County and events this week in Jacksonville and St. Johns County.

See specific counties, dates, times and other information, below.

Food for Florida, a partnership between DCF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has helped families in 24 counties. DCF has mobilized more than 5,900 staff, including 1,450 temporary staff hired specifically to aid with this response.

In addition to those families served at Food for Florida sites, more than 2.4 million individuals already receiving food assistance automatically received benefits to bring them to the maximum benefit amount. These families do not need to apply or show up at a Food for Florida site to receive their benefits.

"The Florida Department of Children and Families is doing everything possible to ensure every family receives the resources and help they need as quickly as possible," DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. “We understand that many locations are experiencing lines and we appreciate the patience and understanding of the more than 300,000 families we’ve served in this process. We will continue to work around the clock processing applications to minimize wait-times and help get Florida families back on their feet."

DCF officials ask that Floridians seeking disaster SNAP assistance preregister online and one person per family attend the event designated for their county on the day set aside for them, based on the first letter of their last name. To preregister, an applicant needs a valid Florida driver's license or Florida identification card. Individuals, families, and authorized representatives who pre-register must still visit a Food for Florida disaster site, listed on the Food for Florida website, to be interviewed. Only the head of household needs to visit the site. Individuals may also apply.

For most applicants who pre-registered and applied electronically, DCF has deposited D-SNAP funds into their accounts by the next business day.

To qualify for the Food for Florida benefits program, applicants must have lived or worked in one of the 48 federally-declared disaster counties on Sept. 5, and not receive food assistance through the regular SNAP Program. Additionally, eligible individuals and families must have suffered a disaster-related loss, such as damage to their homes or self-employment property, loss of food, reduction or loss of income, or have incurred other disaster related expenses.

Additionally, DCF has 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 for Hurricane Irma.
  • Hot foods waiver, and a subsequent extension, to allow families to purchase prepared food with their EBT card 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 affected by Hurricane Irma 
  • Extended October SNAP re-certification deadlines for three months 

One electronic benefits card (EBT) per eligible household will be issued, and there are income limits to qualify. According to DCF, a one-person household could receive up to $200 per month, and a family of four could receive up to $650 per month. State officials said 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.

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, 9501 Arlington Expressway Suite 260, Jacksonville

The site will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Friday – I - L
Saturday – M – P
Sunday – Q - T 
Monday – U - Z
Tuesday – Make-up day

St. Johns, Flagler counties - St. Augustine Fairgrounds, 5840 State Road 207, Elkton

The site will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 15.

Friday – K - O
Saturday – P - Z
Sunday – Make-up day

Baker, Columbia counties - Parkview Baptist Church, 268 N.W. Lake Jeffery Road, Lake City

The site will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, through Tuesday, Oct. 24.

10/20 – A - F
10/21 – G - J
10/22 – K - O
10/23 – P - Z
10/24 – Make-up day

While people are encouraged to go the center designated for their county due to the volume of applicants, anyone who lives in a disaster area can receive assistance at any site, but may be asked to wait until local residents' applications are completed.

Alachua, Bradford and Union counties events were held late last month.

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