For Immediate Release: October 17, 2017
MORE THAN TWO MILLION FLORIDIANS HAVE RECEIVED FEDERAL DISASTER FOOD ASSISTANCE THROUGH DCF
DCF makes requests to federal USDA Food and Nutrition Service
TALLAHASSEE – Today, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced that more than 2.2 million Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma received federal food assistance through the federal United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP). 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. Approximately two FNS staff are also onsite at each operation to observe the operations. 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.
“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 and to date have served more than 2.2 million Floridians through the federal DSNAP process. 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. 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.”
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
Public safety is paramount and is DCF’s first priority as we operate assistance sites throughout the state. DCF will continue to follow the direction of local law enforcement in every community to ensure the safety of those we are committed to serving. DCF defers to local law enforcement for all determinations related to traffic or public safety issues.
DCF has aggressively pursued actions to ensure operations are as expeditious, safe, and efficient as possible, including the following.
- DCF submitted the first request for disaster food assistance to the federal government on September 13, just three days after Hurricane Irma’s first impact to Florida;
- Routed 110 DCF staff from Miami to assist with operations at two Palm Beach County sites;
- Assigned 750 staff at headquarters to support processing of applications;
- Requested additional days to serve Miami-Dade County past the standard seven-day limit;
- Deployed staff from the panhandle to support operations in affected counties;
- Hired traffic control companies to aid with parking and traffic control;
- Continues to monitor the population of those in lines to take elderly and disabled residents to the front of the line; and
- Shuttled staff from remote locations to allow for more onsite parking;
- DCF’s Office of Public Benefits Integrity has staffed every site to help monitor and reduce fraud.
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. Data on the number of households and individuals served by county is attached.