SNAP/Food Assistance after Disaster
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (“D-SNAP”) program offers emergency food benefits during recovery from a disaster. It can only be activated when there is a disaster area declared by the President of the United States. Then, FEMA will extend its assistance to people under in the state of Florida.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
D-SNAP benefits are supplied on a short-term basis for people impacted by a natural disaster. People who are not normally eligible for SNAP based on their income may qualify for benefits when they have lost income or other financial resources because of a natural disaster. These are “emergency” SNAP benefits that are sent out more quickly than usual. You can receive benefits within one week of applying.
Disaster food assistance is not always available. If it becomes available, there will usually be a press release issued in local news media outlets.
You may also check the Department of Agriculture’s website or the Department of Children and Families website shortly after a declared disaster or storm.
Once the D-SNAP program is approved and activated, you have a limited amount of time to apply. The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) sets the application period. If you qualify, you will get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card with one months’ worth of benefits at a time. The EBT card works just like a debit card at most grocery stores.
If you do not already receive SNAP benefits, one or more of the following must apply: (a) you must have lived in the disaster area at the time of the federally declared disaster; (b) you must have suffered income loss due to the disaster; (c) you must have incurred disaster-related loss or expenses, such as shelter/evacuation expenses, cleanup expenses, personal injury/funeral expenses, or other qualifying expenses.
In most cases, the income restrictions for natural disaster benefits are waived, meaning that people who would not normally qualify for SNAP benefits may be eligible to receive D-SNAP benefits, if they meet other eligibility requirements. Applicants must have been living in a federally declared disaster area at the time of the natural disaster.
Regular SNAP benefits are issued to households during the first 28 days of the month. However, when a disaster occurs, the department may choose to release a staggered schedule and make regular monthly benefits available sooner.
When the department implements a D-SNAP program, current SNAP recipients can receive a supplement that will increase their benefit to the maximum amount for the household size for one month.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
If you meet at least one of the above eligibility requirements, you can visit DCF’s registration page to apply for benefits, once they become available. For more information, you may visit https://www.myflfamilies.com/programs/access/dsnap/register.shtml.
Once the program is approved and activated, the state of Florida will set a limited period and deadline for applications of benefits.
You may call the EBT Customer Service number in your state and ask for another card. In Florida, the number to call for more information is (888) 356-3281 or online at https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/snap/state-lines.pdf.
When a disaster has occurred, current SNAP recipients may qualify to get food replaced that was destroyed in a household impacted by a disaster, that is, if the food they lost was purchased with SNAP benefits. In order to receive this benefit, you must meet the following requirements:
- The replacement cannot be more than the amount of benefits the household received for the month;
- The loss must be reported within 10 days with a signed statement of the loss; and
- There must be proof that the household was impacted by the natural disaster.
A representative will review your application for benefits and determine your eligibility based on your specific needs and circumstances.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING ACTION?
Because applications are usually only open for only seven days, apply as soon as assistance services are activated so that you do not miss the deadline. Deadline extensions may be offered in the areas of devastation, but do not count on that. Check the Florida Department of Children and Families website for deadlines