Florida families seeking food assistance after Hurricane Irma will now be able to apply for disaster-related benefits in 48 counties — including Manatee and Sarasota — across the state.
The Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance Program will be open starting Wednesday through Sunday for those applying for food benefits after the hurricane. The program, which provides food assistance after natural disasters, is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, though the Florida Department of Children and Families submitted a request to the agency to activate the program after Irma hit last month.
Families that were already receiving food stamps before the storm may have qualified for more benefits on their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards, thanks to a $133 million infusion of funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program But those not normally eligible for food stamps may be able to receive help under D-SNAP if they meet disaster income limits, which are slightly steeper, and suffered some kind of loss as a result of the disaster, such as property or income.
The disaster program also dispenses benefits via an EBT card, which can be used at most grocery stores, and only accounts for income and expenses from Sept. 5 through Oct. 4. Those who qualify for disaster food assistance would receive a month of benefits comparable to those normally issued to SNAP recipients.
The program runs Friday-Oct. 17 at Westfield Sarasota Square mall from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for Irma victims in Sarasota and Charlotte. DeSoto Square mall will host the program for Manatee County victims Sunday-Oct. 17 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Those interested can apply online for the program here.