The State of Florida narrowly missed the brunt of Hurricane Dorian that devasted the Bahamas. But despite the Sunshine State’s perilous near miss, some low-income Floridians who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to feed their families lost food in Dorian due to power outages or because their home or apartment was flooded or damaged.
Fortunately, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is poised to issue individual replacement benefits for SNAP participants whose food spoiled or was destroyed in Hurricane Dorian. To get replacement SNAP, families must ask DCF for replacement within 10 days from the date of the loss. In addition, families must provide a statement attesting to the loss of food bought with SNAP and can only receive replacement for the amount they lost up to the household’s monthly allotment.
SNAP participants have several options for submitting their replacement request. According to DCF, households can submit a request for replacement SNAP by phone, fax, office visit or through their MyACCESS Account. Although DCF prefers that participants complete a CF-ES 3515 “Food Assistance Replacement Authorization,” DCF will allow households to provide their own written statement as long as the statement includes the same information as the form, such as their name, address, the date of the request, case number, the value of the food they lost, the date of loss, phone number and signature.
Families asking for replacement SNAP may be asked to verifythe cause of their loss before benefits can be replaced. Although DCF does not provide examples of what documentation will suffice, families may want to provide DCF with things like newspaper reports of outages in their neighborhood; bills or statements from repair companies; statements from a community agency; or documentation from Red Cross, their landlord or their electric company. In a pinch, DCF can contact a third party, such as the power company, to confirm the loss if a family is unable to provide verification.
Getting the word out about the 10-day window for requesting replacement SNAP is important. Many of the families who lost food in Dorian are among those who are least able to afford to restock their refrigerator. Although individual replacement of SNAP assistance is not as comprehensive as automatic mass replacements in affected areas, it is reassuring that DCF is prepared to replace the food of the most vulnerable of our affected friends and neighbors. Help spread the word.