NEW ORLEANS — DSNAP or Disaster Food Stamps were approved on Tuesday for residents of 25 Louisiana parishes hit by Hurricane Ida, but residents won't have to physically wait in line like those impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Because of COVID-19, DSNAP applications will be over the phone, and cards will be mailed through USPS to those approved to receive the help.
"If you lost power, and you don't have available resources to support you and your family to replace or supplement your food then yes you should apply for DSNAP," Howard said. "Everything is done over the phone. We're trying to make it as convenient as possible."
There is no specific income limit, but there are several factors used to determine eligibility, Howard said.
"We realized that everybody is impacted by disaster a little bit differently. We look at your net income over a 30 day period," Howard said. "We look at your available resources that you actually have access to. And then we look at your expenses that you've incurred because of the disaster in order to determine eligibility."
The Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services is preparing for about 185,000 resident applications, but she still expects short wait times for the over-the-phone application process.
"We've been operating a virtual DSNAP since Hurricane Laura last year. It started out a little rough, but it was very successful. Our average wait time then was less than a minute," Howard said. "However, this is a much higher call volume that we're anticipating, meaning that we can keep the wait time under 10 minutes."
Despite the Tuesday approval, residents can't begin to apply for DSNAP until Monday, Sept. 20 because of federal guidelines.
"DSNAP cannot begin in communities until all other federal disaster food assistance in a parish has ended (including PODs and Disaster Household Distribution), power and telephone/internet connectivity are restored, mail delivery is in operation and grocery stores are open," Louisiana's Department of Children & Family Services website said.
Even after registration opens on Monday, residents need to wait until the phase that includes their parish begins. Readers can scroll down to the end of this article to see the DSNAP application schedule that tells them when they can apply.
But folks who need help can do a few things to speed up their application process, Howard said. Preregistering for DSNAP will not only speed up the application times; it will tell folks when it's their turn to can and apply — or if the volume of calls is low enough for people to call sooner than scheduled.
How to Apply
Residents should call the LAHelpU Customer Service Center to apply and be interviewed for DSNAP on their designated day (according to the first letter of their last name) or on the A-Z days, which are open to all residents in the approved parishes and ZIP codes for each phase.
Parishes were assigned to each phase based on power, telephone/internet connectivity, mail delivery, and grocery stores are open at the time the DSNAP request was submitted.
PHASE 1 – September 20-25
E. Baton Rouge, E. Feliciana, Iberia, Orleans, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Washington, W. Baton Rouge and W. Feliciana
Day 1 (Monday, Sept. 20) – Residents with last names beginning with A-F
Day 2 (Tuesday, Sept. 21) – G-M
Day 3 (Wednesday, Sept. 22) – N-S
Day 4 (Thursday, Sept. 23) – T-Z
Day 5 (Friday, Sept. 24) – Open for all (letters A-Z) in the Phase 1 parishes
Day 6 (Saturday, Sept. 25) – Open for all (letters A-Z) in the Phase 1 parishes
PHASE 2 – September 27-October 2
Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, Jefferson, Livingston, Plaquemines, St. Helena, St. Martin (lower St. Martin Parish ZIPs only 70339 & 70380), St. Mary and Tangipahoa
Day 1 (Monday, Sept. 27) – Residents with last names beginning with A-F
Day 2 (Tuesday, Sept. 28) – G-M
Day 3 (Wednesday, Sept. 29) – N-S
Day 4 (Thursday, Sept. 30) – T-Z
Day 5 (Friday, Oct. 1) – Open for all (letters A-Z) in the Phase 2 parishes
Day 6 (Saturday, Oct. 2) – Open for all (letters A-Z) in the Phase 2 parishes
PHASE 3 – October 4-9
Lafourche, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist and Terrebonne
Day 1 (Monday, Oct. 4) – Residents with last names beginning with A-F
Day 2 (Tuesday, Oct. 5) – G-M
Day 3 (Wednesday, Oct. 6) – N-S
Day 4 (Thursday, Oct. 7) – T-Z
Day 5 (Friday, Oct. 8) – Open for all (letters A-Z) in the Phase 3 parishes
Day 6 (Saturday, Oct. 9) – Open for all (letters A-Z) in the Phase 3 parishes