Tracking the Tropics

Sep 1, 2011 4:55 PM by Press Release

Residents Encouraged to Pre-Apply for Disaster Food Assistance Ahead of Storm

BATON ROUGE -- September is the height of hurricane season, and with a tropical disturbance over the Gulf of Mexico expected to impact Louisiana over the weekend, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is encouraging residents to prepare by pre-applying online for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (DSNAP), formerly called Disaster Food Stamps.

"September is National Preparedness Month and preparation is critical, especially as we enter the height of hurricane season," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "With a tropical disturbance moving in the Gulf and current flood watches in effect for our coast, I strongly urge all residents, especially those living in our coastal parishes, to take advantage of our online pre-application for DSNAP."

Johnson said that while a DSNAP program is not in effect and is not expected with the current system, now is the perfect time to pre-apply and be prepared for this or any other storm in the future.

DSNAP provides food assistance for eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. The state must request that the federal government initiate DSNAP, but can only make the request after the Stafford Act is activated, which has not yet occurred for this tropical depression.

According to Johnson, the pre-application process does not guarantee benefits, but is designed to save time, prevent long waits and to make it easier for applicants to collect the required income information before a disaster strikes.

"I hope all residents will make pre-applying online for DSNAP part of their disaster preparedness game plan," said Johnson. "By completing the pre-application online, residents are taking a proactive step to prepare themselves and their families for a disaster."

To pre-apply, residents can visit www.dcfs.louisiana.gov or www.getagameplan.org and provide the following information:

* Names, Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth for each household member
* Current address and parish of household
* Monthly income for each household member
* All liquid resources for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings and money market account balances and certificates of deposit)

The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

Residents without Internet access may call 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578) to pre-apply.

In the event that a disaster is declared and a DSNAP program is launched, residents who have pre-applied only need to visit a DSNAP issuance site to verify their information and identity, determine final eligibility and receive their benefit cards. Exact eligibility requirements and DSNAP issuance sites will be announced only after a disaster is declared.

Louisiana's federally approved system is the first year-round DSNAP pre-application process in the nation.

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