DCF successfully serves more than a million families through federal disaster food assistance program

Nov 9 • 64 Views • View Comments

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The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has administered the federal Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP) in Florida for 45 consecutive days, serving more than a million families and distributing nearly $900 million in DSNAP benefits. As of November 7, DCF processed more than one million DSNAP applications, and DSNAP benefits were issued to 2.7 million individuals. Together with disaster food assistance provided through the regular SNAP program’s replacements and supplements, DCF has provided more than $1.35 billion in benefits that families can use right away. 

“The federal DSNAP operation in Florida has been unprecedented in terms of the geographic scope, number of families served, and amount of benefits provided to help families recover from a devastating storm. This has by far been the largest DSNAP operation in the country. In 45 days, DCF has operated 50 different DSNAP sites for 213 operational days and served more than a million families. While an operation of this size has not been without challenges, we’re grateful that we have had the opportunity to help our neighbors and contribute to Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Irma,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll.

Public safety has been DCF’s first priority as we operated assistance sites throughout the state. DCF has partnered with and followed the direction of local law enforcement in every community to ensure the safety of those we are committed to serving. DCF defers to local law enforcement for all determinations related to traffic or public safety issues. DCF has aggressively pursued actions to ensure operations are as expeditious, safe, and efficient as possible. Following the conclusion of the Food for Florida program statewide, DCF will conduct a thorough after action review of all operations.

Important details are included below.

  • On November 8, Secretary Carroll presented to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services regarding DSNAP operations. Full video of the presentation is available here.
  • DCF submitted the first request for disaster food assistance to the federal government on September 13, just three days after Hurricane Irma’s first impact to Florida.
  • DCF sent a letter to the USDA on October 17 to request additional flexibility and resources in administering the federal DSNAP program in Florida.
    • Read the FNS response to DCF here.
  • Read DCF’s letter to the USDA regarding a waiver for the elderly and disabled populations here. This request is still pending.

  • Statewide data on DSNAP by county as of November 7 is available here.
    • Final data on all DSNAP operations will be posted next week.

  • Today is the final day of federal DSNAP operations in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. DSNAP sites opened at the BB&T Center in Sunrise and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Tuesday, November 7. Preliminary data on operations at both sites is included below.
    • Miami:
      • 22,000 applications were processed on Tuesday
      • 20,800 applications were processed on Wednesday
      • More than 121,000 bottles of water have been distributed
      • On Tuesday, DCF began serving individuals early at 6:15 am, and today at 5:30 am.
      • More than 1,800 DCF and temporary staff are on site processing applications and supporting operations
    • Broward:
      • 17,000 applications were processed on Tuesday
      • 23,000 applications were processed on Wednesday
      • DCF has distributed more than 51,000 bottles of water. The United Way has also distributed more than 32,000 bottles of water.  
      • Today, DCF began serving individuals at 6:30 a.m.
      • More than 1,100 DCF and temporary staff are on site processing applications and supporting operations

  • Following the conclusion of DSNAP operations, any individuals who may be in need of assistance can apply through the regular public assistance program online at http://www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/.
  • Assigned 750 staff from headquarters to support processing of applications
  • Initially deployed more than 6,000 staff statewide to assist in operations and administration of this federal program, including nearly 1,500 temporary workers, to Food for Florida sites to process applications
  • Deployed staff from the panhandle to support operations in affected counties
  • Hired traffic control companies to aid with parking and traffic control
  • Special accommodations have been available for the elderly and disabled. Onsite staff are working to monitor the population of those in lines to assist elderly and disabled residents to the front of the line. Those who need these accommodations should find staff to inquire about expedited service.
  • Shuttled staff from remote locations to allow for more onsite parking
  • Every site has distributed bottled water to individuals waiting in line on foot.
  • DCF takes the responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer money very seriously and investigates all instances of potential fraud. DCF’s Public Benefits Integrity (PBI) program has investigators on-site at each FFF location to review potentially fraudulent applicants and conduct investigations for profiles flagged as fraud-prone. PBI investigators are also monitoring social media sites for fraudulent sales of food assistance. Individuals who are found guilty of submitting false information on their application for D-SNAP benefits are subject to criminal prosecution and will be required to pay the money back. PBI on-site staff reviewed nearly 42,000 D-SNAP applications as of November 8 and have avoided issuing more than $13 million in fraudulent benefits.

In addition to DSNAP, DCF applied for federal food assistance program waivers for those receiving regular SNAP benefits and provided:

  • Early release of food assistance benefits prior to Hurricane Irma making landfall to help families prepare
  • Hot Foods Waiver, and a subsequent extension, to allow families to purchase prepared food with their EBT cards at participating retailers
  • Extended the time frame to report food loss from 10 to 20 days
  • Mass food assistance replacement benefits for September to SNAP recipients in 52 counties effected by Hurricane Irma
  • Extended October SNAP recertification deadlines for three months

 

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