To be eligible you must:

  • be a resident of a county impacted by Hurricane Irma
  • have food loss, damage to home or business, lost, reduced, or delayed income due to the hurricane, or hurricane-related expenses not expected to be reimbursed within the next month, like evacuation expenses.
  • have a household income & assets within the eligibility limits,
  • be able to provide proof of identity, and
  • not already enrolled in SNAP/Food Stamps.
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Community organizations file lawsuit after Floridians denied access to food assistance
Lawyers ask for reasonable accommodations for disabled and vulnerable applicants to Disaster SNAP program

November 3, 2017

Miami, FL - The Miami Workers Center, New Florida Majority, and individuals with disabilities filed a class action lawsuit yesterday challenging the roll-out of disaster food assistance (D-SNAP) across the state of Florida. Almost two months after Hurricane Irma disrupted life for low-income and vulnerable residents, many eligible Floridians are still without food assistance.

After multiple requests for accommodations were denied, lawyers for the plaintiffs from the Health Rights Clinic at the University of Miami, Community Justice Project, and Florida Legal Services are asking a federal judge to keep the program open, implement best practices, and offer alternatives to those who cannot make it to application sites or stand in long lines. The Department of Children and Families (DCF), who is responsible for administering the program in Florida, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which funds and regulates the program, are among the defendants named in the lawsuit.

Florida’s implementation of the program has been fraught with problems.  In Broward, overwhelming turnout forced site closures just hours after opening. In Miami, there were reports of applicants fainting in line. In Jacksonville, lines reportedly formed by 3 A.M.. Applicants were forced to stand in hours-long lines in the sweltering heat, regardless of age or ability. DCF demanded in-person interviews, refusing to request waivers to conduct telephone interviews or operate out of community centers, instead launching costly mass sign ups as residents tried to get back on their feet. Florida already allows telephone interviews for regular food stamp applicants.

Media Contact:
Elizabeth Taveras, (305) 721-9661, elizabeth@theworkerscenter.org
Renee Mowatt, (407) 575 - 3094 , press@newfloridamajority.org

 
 

UPDATE

Less than a day after the lawsuit was filed, DCF responded to the community demand for telephone interviews for the D-SNAP program by requesting a federal waiver. Elderly and disabled applicants unable to make it to in-person registration events may be able to apply by phone on November 11-12. The fight continues for full accesibility. 


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