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May 12, 2010 7:30 PM by Carolyn Cerda

Oil Prompts Food Assistance

The oil slick continues to impact the livelihood of shrimpers and fishermen along the coast. They could lose out huge financially because of the crude disaster. Now, two organizations are taking steps to prevent the impact from trickling down to the dinner table.

The Louisiana Department of Social Services issued an emergency rule Wednesday, tweaking eligibility requirements for the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP... Also known as Food Stamps.

"The immediate affect of this rule will allow us to reach those who may not have been eligible before but will be eligible now based on the impact of the oil spill," Suzy Sonnier with the DSS said.

This will exclude many resources from eligibility determinations, including all payments other than wages received as a result of the incident. Resources like business accounts and lump sum insurance payments received from British Petroleum would not be counted as assets or income.

Sonnier says there is still a severe need of resources for the businessmen and women in the Gulf, including food.

"We just want to make sure that they (fishermen and shrimpers) don't sacrifice food and we don't want they're families to go hungry in this time," Sonnier said.

The DSS has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to ensure families have every opportunity to put food on their tables.

Lafayette Branch Manager, Amy Fuselier says the food bank has already sent out more than 500 emergency food boxes to Gulf Coast families needing help.

"This was an incident, something that happened that was not their fault... that is what we're here for, we are here to help those in need," Fuselier said.

The food stamps and food bank are two resources Sonnier says those in need should take advantage of.

"I would encourage people to not be ashamed, these resources are here for us to use.... You can apply online, over the phone, you don't even have to come into our offices at all," Sonnier said.

You can call 232-HELP for more information about Second Harvest Food Bank or visit the DSS website to apply for food stamps.

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