To avoid the kind of delays that plagued the state after Hurricane Gustav, officials asked residents to speed delivery of disaster food aid by applying now for the extra food stamps issued after storms hit. Washington - Louisiana tied North Carolina for the biggest increase in food stamp use between May and June, according to data released this week by the Department of Agriculture.
Washington -- Louisiana tied North Carolina for the biggest increase in food stamp use between May and June, according to data released this week by the Department of Agriculture.
The personal economic toll from the evacuation for Hurricane Gustav emerged in full force Tuesday as thousands of southeast Louisiana residents lined up for public and private relief, saying their treks to safety had pushed them to the financial brink. With home food stocks spoiled after days with no electricity and household finances depleted by unexpected hotel and gas bills totaling $1,000 or more, haggard evacuees spent hours in long lines under a sweltering sun to sign up for emergency food stamp benefits. Unprepared for the crush, state officials administering the food stamp program stopped accepting new applications at sites in New Orleans, Mandeville and Marrero around midday and asked would-be recipients to return this morning to determine whether they qualify for the federal food subsidy, using income guidelines expanded because of Gustav. Cheryl Michelet, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services, said state officials last week asked the federal Department of Agriculture, which finances the food subsidy program, to waive a requirement that applicants meet personally with program administrators. Quiett said City Hall didn't know anything about the disaster food stamp application process until requests came in Tuesday morning for more police to direct traffic around St. The disaster food stamp program lasts for 30 days and applies to people who don't already receive the federal benefit but may be unemployed or out of their homes because of Gustav, Williamson said. The temporary program provides the same amount of money, based on the number of people in a household, as the ordinary food stamp program but eases income requirements, taking into consideration property damage, loss of a family's food stock and temporary work loss.
Unlike the program implemented after Hurricane Katrina, the current disaster food program does not require applicants to estimate the value of damage to their homes, instead setting a standard deduction. The church's relief system works through a process called case management, in which a client and a case manager jointly prioritize the client's needs and the case manager systematically helps the client meet those needs -- whether utility relief, emergency food, furniture, day care or other services.

For now, Catholic relief centers are handing out more limited services, like military rations for those who need food or utility relief only to those who already have been served with a formal disconnect notice from Entergy. Louisiana Department of Children and Families expects regular food aid recipients will get disaster benefits by Saturday morning.
People who typically use the state's food stamp program will receive disaster benefits from Hurricane Isaac by Saturday morning, a state spokesman said today.
T-P archiveNearly one in five Louisiana residents depends on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to buy groceries, among the highest percentages in a nation where food stamp rolls continue to rise. For more than a week, the Louisiana Department of Children and Families has been processing applications for disaster food stamps in parishes hit hardest by the storm. Officials have said people who are on the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- the formal name for food assistance -- will eventually receive additional money on their benefit cards.
Thirty percent of the money SNAP recipients were awarded for the month of August was loaded back onto their cards to replace food ruined in the power outages after Isaac. USDA gave the necessary approval late on Monday night to allow the state to dispense disaster benefits to SNAP recipients in 16 parishes, Sonnier said.
Current SNAP recipients will receive disaster relief as long as they aren't already at the maximum allotment for their household size. And that was before thousands of Louisiana residents began signing up for emergency food stamps in the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to offset the cost of spoiled food from the power outages and evacuations related to Hurricane Isaac.
After returning from a pricey evacuation to Leroy, Ala., Lanson said, she tossed several hundred dollars' worth of frozen food to the curb.
Jeremy Falanga of the Louisiana National Guard, which provided security and bottled water to residents who inched forward in a zigzag line around the church parking lot.

A handwritten cardboard sign saying "Food stamp distribution closed for today" was taped to the window of a patrol car as State Police waved motorists by the park entrance. Families in the disaster zone that already receive food stamps regularly have received an automatic 20 percent boost in their benefit this month because of the storm. These current recipients of food aid have received some benefits since Isaac hit south Louisiana in late August, but haven't actually gotten the disaster allotment yet. But the new applicants -- who in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish have crowded sites set up by the state -- don't regularly receive food stamps.
The current recipients will receive the difference between their usual benefit and the maximum amount as their disaster benefits.
In Louisiana, 901,586 people received food stamps in June, up 1.3 percent from the month before. Quiett said city officials learned late Tuesday of the 72-hour waiting period for the food stamp card activation and were considering reopening the food distribution sites. Bernard and Plaquemines qualified for food assistance, many faced waits of a week or more before food-stamp cards were activated.
They'll still need to visit the food-stamp site but only to show IDs and verify that their information hasn't changed, spokesman Trey Williams said.

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