Thousands of people waited in lines Monday in across Baton Rouge — some in the sweltering heat — to qualify for disaster food stamps after they lost houses, cars and incomes from the floods.
Monday was the first day people in East Baton Rouge could sign up for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, DSNAP, after the program began last week in eight other parishes. More than 46,000 households were deemed eligible for the food stamps benefits last week, and state Department of Children and Family Services officials expect between 35,000 and 60,000 more people in East Baton Rouge Parish alone will sign up this week.
Ashley Delanoix managed a smile as she walked to her car in the Judson Baptist Church parkin…
The crowd waiting Monday morning at the Louisiana Leadership Institute on Hooper Road was well more than 500, with many sitting inside a gym. Many wondered if they should try another site.
"I brought my patience with me," said Ursula Brown as she waited for hours to sign up.
But a few miles down Harding Boulevard, the sign-ups were much quicker at Southern University's F.G. Clark Activity Center. Dedra Burns said she tried waiting at Gloryland Baptist Church — where those in line had to wait outside under a tent — before heading to Southern.
"Within 20 minutes, they started calling us to go to the computer," she said.
Residents of Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge and Lafayette parishes will be able to sign…
By early afternoon, DCFS Deputy Assistant Secretary Sammy Guillory was encouraging people to go to Southern or the Louisiana Leadership Institute to sign up for DSNAP. He said their lines were supposed to be shorter than those at Gloryland and the Council on Aging's center on Florida Boulevard.
Guillory said DCFS had nearly maxed out the number of staff and computers that could fit at each of the four signup sites, so they could not easily shift resources to accommodate the centers with the longest wait times.
Not everyone minded the heat at Gloryland. Mikey Cody waited for a couple of hours with his son, saying he lost the 18-wheeler he drives when the floods hit Joor Road.
He and others said the time passed relatively quickly.
Many of those waiting referenced paying into the system that hoped would now help them.
"Your taxes pay for it," said Calvin Roberson. "I pay for it every day, just like I pay for Social Security."
More than 7,000 households in eight flood-affected parishes received disaster food assistanc…
Monday was only meant for people with last names starting with the letters A through D. The program is meant for people who do not normally receive food stamps, but who have been adversely affected by flooding.
Workers who determine eligibility for the disaster food stamps consider how much money in checking and savings accounts the people applying for the assistance have, and they subtract their losses from the flood, whether people lost their houses, cars or could not work.
Last week, around 53,000 households applied for food stamp assistance but only 46,000 were eligible, Guillory said. Those who qualify for DSNAP receive a card with a one-time-only one month's allotment of assistance, which they have to use within the next year, he said.
People who already receive food stamps should not apply for DSNAP. People who already receive the assistance will have disaster assistance loaded onto their cards unless they have already reached their household maximum limit, DCFS has said.
Residents affected by recent flooding can apply for assistance from the Louisiana Department…
DSNAP will continue to be distributed between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day this week at the F.G. Clark Activity Center, the Louisiana Leadership Institute, Gloryland Baptist Church and the Council on Aging's Capital City Event Center.
Tuesday is meant for those with last names beginning with E through K, Wednesday is for last names beginning L through R, and Thursday is for last names S through Z. If someone misses their designated day, A through K applicants will have another chance to sign up on Friday, and L through Z applicants will have another chance on Saturday.
DCFS is asking people to preregister on their website or by calling them at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578).