Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc in Louisiana, leaving a trail of destruction wherever it impacted. The state continues to grapple with the aftermath of this catastrophic event, and one vulnerable group that has been significantly affected is the recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. Recognizing the dire circumstances faced by these individuals and families, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has taken a crucial step by securing a boost in benefits for SNAP recipients in the affected areas.
This initiative aims to alleviate the hardships caused by power outages that continue to impact many parts of the state. Already dealing with financial constraints, they suddenly found themselves confronting additional obstacles due to the power outages. The loss of refrigeration and the inability to cook food further ended up in a lot of edibles and groceries being lost. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the DCFS took swift action to mitigate the impact on these vulnerable individuals and families: their SNAP benefits will be replaced shortly.
SNAP beneficiaries in 18 Louisiana parishes will get their benefits replaced
Teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services (USDA), Louisiana’s DCFS will be delivering up to 55% of each household’s monthly allotment as a replacement check for the lost groceries and pantry essentials, as for August. So far, recipients don’t have to make any additional paperwork or procedure.
The 18 parishes approved for automatic replacement benefits as follows:
- East Baton Rouge
- East Feliciana
- St. Bernard
- St. Charles
- St. Helena
- St. James
- St. John the Baptist
- St. Tammany
The additional benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards by September 11, providing much-needed assistance to those affected.
For SNAP recipients in other impacted parishes who lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to power outages lasting 24 consecutive hours or longer, there is a provision to request benefits. Recipients can do so by submitting a completed and signed SNAP 38 form to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). This process ensures that those who suffered significant food losses can receive the support they need to recover from the impact of Hurricane Ida. To claim a food loss of more than 60%, please complete the same form by the July 17, 2023. Additional information supporting your claim may be required.
Temporary flexibilities for North Louisiana SNAP recipients
While the focus has been on the parishes directly impacted by Hurricane Ida, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also extended temporary flexibilities for SNAP recipients in North Louisiana who were impacted by severe weather in recent weeks. This additional assistance acknowledges the challenges faced by recipients in those regions.
One of the approved waivers allows the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services to automatically replace 60% of June’s benefits for SNAP recipients in Bossier, Caddo, and DeSoto Parishes. This proactive measure helps address the immediate needs of those affected, providing them with much-needed relief during this difficult time.
Additionally, a waiver has been granted for recipients in several North Louisiana parishes. This waiver suspends the regulation requiring households to submit a request for replacement benefits within 10 days. Instead, recipients now have an additional 20 days to verify their power loss and report their food losses. This waiver applies to recipients in the next parishes:
- East Carroll
- Red River
- West Carroll
What is the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services’ initiative to help SNAP recipients?
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has implemented several initiatives to help SNAP recipients. Here are some key initiatives:
- SNAP E&T (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training): This initiative offers SNAP recipients in Louisiana the opportunity to gain skills, training, and work experience. The program is provided at no cost to SNAP recipients who participate.
- Pandemic EBT (P-EBT): DCFS, in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Education, received approval from USDA FNS to issue Pandemic EBT benefits to eligible children for the 2022-2023 school year, child care, and summer.
- Automatic Benefit Replacements: SNAP recipients in Bossier, Caddo, and DeSoto parishes who have experienced storm-related power outages are approved for automatic benefit replacements. Recipients in other affected parishes who lost food due to power outages of 24+ hours may also apply for replacement benefits by completing a SNAP 38 form. The deadline to submit the SNAP 38 and proof of power outage is July 17, 2023.
To access these initiatives and apply for SNAP benefits, individuals can visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP.
Additionally, individuals can contact the LAHelpU Customer Service Center at 1-888-524-3578 for assistance or to request a fair hearing to review the outcome of their application.