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Hurricane Dennis News

CONTACT: Zoraya Suarez (850) 488-4855

DCF Rushes Food Stamps Ahead of Hurricane Dennis

--DCF team prepares to again help storm victims in hurricane threatened areas--

TALLAHASSEE The Department of Children & Families (DCF), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is speeding up the distribution of monthly food stamp benefits ahead of Hurricane Dennis. The measure is intended to ensure that potential storm-impacted residents have an adequate food supply during the hurricane recovery period.

The advance distribution applies only to participants of the regular food stamp program. Counties in the panhandle region and Florida Keys will receive immediate assistance, District 1 (Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton), District 2 (Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, Washington), and a portion of District 11 (Monroe). By lifting the staggered issuance, current food stamp recipients will be able to access their designated allotment by using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card now to prepare for the storm.

Currently, in District 1, 18,554 families receive food stamp benefits, while 26, 703 collect them in District 2, and 1,875 families obtain them in Monroe County. More than $4,000,000 in food stamp benefits has already been issued since yesterday in these areas.

If needed, DCF and the USDA stand ready to implement the Disaster Food Stamp program to residents outside the regular program. Experience indicates that the size of the Disaster Food Stamp Program on average is approximately two times the size of the areas regular food stamp program caseload. A Disaster Food Stamp Program is activated following a disaster based on certain criteria. Based on lessons learned from last hurricane season, DCF has developed standard guidelines to evaluate the need, scope, and implementation of the Disaster Food Stamp Program.

In 2004, DCF and USDA, provided 1,354,856 Floridians with $ 161,528,342in hurricane relief disaster food stamps. This one-time assistance program provided assistance to families not currently receiving food stamps, resided in an affected county on the date of storm impact and experienced at least one of the following adverse effects:

  • Damage to or destruction to their home or self-employed business.
  • Accumulated hurricane related expenses not expected to be reimbursed. (e.g. home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, evacuation expenses, home/business protection, disaster-relate personal injury including funeral expenses).
  • Loss of or inaccessible income, including reduction or termination of income, or delay in receipt of income. Inaccessible liquid resources (e.g. the bank closed due to disaster).
  • AND must not exceed income restrictions (income will be examined on a net monthly basis).

DCF has also built into the application process detection of possible fraud. Trained personnel look for inconsistencies in answers to questions posed to applicants during application interviews.

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Last updated: November 09, 2007

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