Jul 23, 2010 11:36 AM by Melissa Canone
With Tropical Storm Bonnie expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico later today, 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.
"Hurricane season is well underway, and this year the potential for disaster is compounded by the oil spill affecting our coast," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "I strongly urge all residents, especially those living in our coastal parishes, to take advantage of our online pre-application for DSNAP."
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 Tropical Storm Bonnie.
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 hurricane 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-LA HELP U (1-888-524-3578) to pre-apply.
Pre-applying does not guarantee benefits. After a disaster is declared, 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.