Mon. Mar 27th, 2023

As of Monday, Oct. 10, low-income Florida residents who have been affected by Hurricane Ian may qualify for assistance even if they were not eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) before.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted the request from Florida’s Department of Children and Families to provide assistance to families and individuals with income limits and qualifying disaster-related expenses after Hurricane Ian decimated the west coast and left a swath of destruction across the state.
 DCF estimates over 740,000 households in Florida may be eligible, according to a USDA release.
“USDA stands with our neighbors in Florida to continue to provide vital food assistance as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “The Department is prepared to extend any available flexibility that will improve food access during their road to recovery.”
Did Hurricane Ian damage your home, vehicle? Disaster victims may apply to FEMA for financial help.
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Here’s what you need to know:
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) provides a streamlined process to allow people who are not currently getting SNAP benefits to receive food assistance due to loss of income from Hurricane Ian.
Households can use these food assistance benefits, which are loaded onto an EBT card that works at authorized retailers like a debit card, to buy breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and plants and seeds to grow food for your household.
The EBT card cannot be used for alcoholic beverages, pet foods, paper products, household supplies, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, or other non-food items.
Ordinarily, EBT cards cannot be used for hot, prepared foods for immediate consumption but that restriction has been waived statewide through Oct. 31.
To qualify for D-SNAP:
Eligibility will go much faster if you can provide a state driver’s license and a Social Security number.
What you need to know:11 helpful links to help you navigate Ian recovery, relief
Job loss:Hurricane Ian wiped out jobs across Southwest Florida. Here’s what you need to know
According to DCF, D-SNAP will be rolled out in phases by county starting Monday, Oct. 10. You must pre-register online at Pre-registration is only available for counties designated in each phase (see below for dates). If you are unable to preregister online, there will be in-person D-SNAP event locations.
Verification is required for some parts of the application. After registering, you must complete a phone interview by calling the D-SNAP Call Center (850-663-1919, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST) on a designated day or attend an on-site event at a later date. Phone interview times are designated based on the first letter of the applicant’s last name.
Online pre-registration will be open for Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, Sarasota, and Polk counties from Monday, Oct. 10 at 1:00 a.m. through Sunday, Oct. 16 at 11:00 p.m.
Phase two will include Flagler, Highlands, Manatee, Orange, Pinellas, and St. Johns with preregistration available between Monday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 23. Telephone verification will be available between Thursday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 23.
Phase three will include Hillsborough, Lake, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole, and Volusia with preregistration available between Monday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 30. Telephone verification will be available between Thursday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 30.
Get help now:Hurricane Ian victims can get help with aid, shelter and more with these resources
Covering your losses:How to get the most out of your flood insurance after Ian
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Did you lose food during power outages from Hurricane Ian? If you’re eligible to receive SNAP benefits in impacted areas of Florida, you may be able to get it replaced.
A lot of Floridians received advance SNAP benefits before Ian hit. Florida’s Department of Children and Families released over $235 million in October Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits early, on Sept. 27, to more than 773,500 households (1.4 million individuals) to help with storm preparation in case families needed to evacuate and to cover non-perishable items, according to the DCF website.
DCF has received approval to issue mass replacements of SNAP benefits to people in the following counties who didn’t get an early release: Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Okeechobee, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, and Volusia. The DCF says they are still awaiting approval for Osceola and St. John’s counties. These replacement benefits were automatically loaded to EBT cards Monday, Oct. 3. You can check your EBT balance here or call 1-888-356-3281.
If you received early benefits, you are not eligible for mass replacements of benefits, However, if you need to replace food items lost during the storm in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Lake, Lee, Osceola, Sarasota, and St. Johns counties, you can apply online: Apply in English | Español | Kreyòl Deadline for application is Oct. 17
In addition, DCF has requested approval for existing SNAP participants to receive the maximum benefit for their household size. Once granted, existing SNAP participants will receive the difference between their normal monthly benefit amount and the maximum amount allowable.
If you do not currently receive Florida SNAP benefits, you can see if you’re eligible and apply here. These benefits can be used to buy breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. 
State offices in DeSoto and Lee remain closed. The DMS-managed Orlando Hurston Building south tower will remain closed for now due to sustained damage, while the north tower will be open, and the Daytona Regional Service Center may be closed temporarily due to sustained damage.
Family Resource Support Centers are being opened across the impacted counties to provide access to community resources and support from department staff including Hope Navigators, behavior health partners who specialize in disaster recovery response, and public benefit eligibility specialists to help individuals and families who need assistance due to Hurricane Ian. FRSCs also work with local organizations and partners to provide more resources to help meet the needs of affected residents. Visit for location details and hours, or call 850-300-HOPE to speak to a Hope Navigator.
C. A. Bridges is a Digital Producer for the USA TODAY Network, working with multiple newsrooms across Florida. Local journalists work hard to keep you informed about the things you care about, and you can support them by subscribing to your local news organization. Read more articles by Chris here and follow him on Twitter at @cabridges


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