Disaster Preparation and Relief for SNAP Recipients Presented By Food-Stamps.org
The team at Food-Stamps.org understands that many families across America struggle to provide basic supplies for their families and require a helping hand. State and federal welfare agencies strive to provide resources for multiple needs, including crucial food assistance. Rules and regulations make sure recipients nationwide get fair benefits – while preventing fraud – when Americans need it most. Unfortunately, events like natural disasters disrupt lives and destroy homes, ruining stability for many citizens, but especially households receiving government benefits. Thankfully, government agencies understand the intense need of low-income communities in times disaster, and one such program is the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), which makes sure SNAP recipients still receive critical government assistance for food.
Those residents already receiving SNAP benefits do not need to register for D-SNAP benefits, as the D-SNAP benefits will automatically show up in their accounts. Due to extreme circumstances however, D-SNAP restrictions differ from typical SNAP eligibility, and may cover households typically ineligible for SNAP benefits. The team at Food-Stamps.org urges residents in disaster-prone areas to pre-register for D-SNAP when possible in their states, even if they are not typically eligible for SNAP. Pre-registration saves time and effort when in crisis, as the required information may be lost or destroyed in a disaster. After the disaster, those pre-registered D-SNAP applicants must locate a D-SNAP site or office and provide proof of their identities. D-SNAP recipients typically must meet certain requirements including income loss, home destruction, food loss or disaster-related expenses.
If the residents did not pre-register, residents should go to the D-SNAP site or office to inquire about emergency SNAP benefits. Although residents should check with their local and state governments about the full list of necessary paperwork for D-SNAP applications in their locations, residents should do their best to provide the most documentation possible, including:
- Forms of identification to prove their residency and identity, such as a driver's licenses, state identification cards, Social Security cards or passports.
- The household's monthly income, especially at the time of the disaster.
- Household expenses due to the disaster, such as temporary shelter, medical expenses or home repairs.
- A report of liquid assets, like cash or money in bank accounts.
For any residents approved for D-SNAP benefits, the benefits are loaded onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that can be used at most stores in their areas.
SNAP Food Loss and Replacement
In some instances, current SNAP recipients purchase food for the households, but lose those resources during or after the disaster. Fire, flood and other elements often cause food loss, but even a loss of power may qualify SNAP recipients for replacement benefits. Customers should contact the D-SNAP office or relief sites to report and request SNAP replacements within 10 days of the food loss. With the request, a caseworker or representative will need to verify the food loss, and then replace the food within 10 days of the reported food loss. Customer replacement benefits will not exceed the maximum monthly amount, and customers may receive benefits early at the discretion of the state. Current SNAP recipients may request additional D-SNAP benefits to supplement their current assistance amounts up to the maximum household amount, and should contact their D-SNAP locations for assistance.
Additional Disaster Preparation
In addition to D-SNAP application and pre-registration, customers should prepare for disasters in a variety of other ways. Although situations vary, helpful tips from the team at Food-Stamps.org will assist residents in multiple ways. Although some disasters are unpredictable, households may prepare for certain contingencies well in advance. Right before an impending natural disaster, families often rush to stores to stock up on supplies, only to find that shelves across town are empty. When possible, customers in disaster-prone areas should purchase items with long or indefinite shelf lives well ahead of time, especially for residents who live in regions with more predictable disaster zones. Canned goods and sealed, unopened containers of water are excellent resources that residents can stock up on before disasters occur, and the team at Food-Stamps.org suggests that customers check sale papers when those goods are cheaper for optimal savings. Families may even check some discount stores for cheaper food items to put aside for their disaster supplies. Even if a disaster does not happen, residents have an excellent supply of food for future meals. Of course, residents should periodically check their pantries and refrigerators for expired or damaged goods, as the middle of a disaster is an inconvenient time to find out food is inedible or dangerous.
Residents should also think about storage when stockpiling food supplies to keep their food fresh and accessible. Cool, dark places are the optimal storage conditions for canned and bottled goods, so residents should utilize those storage spaces when possible. In addition to freshness, food should be easily accessible to all members of the household. Tall cabinets or cluttered sheds are difficult to access for elderly or disabled residents, and can even become hazardous for all residents in case of power loss.
Households with young children, elderly or disabled individuals or sick residents should take care with extra planning including additional water and food, infant formula and medication storage and access. The team at Food-Stamps.org urges families to make homes accessible and safe for their families, especially when a loss of power makes it difficult for individuals to navigate their living spaces. For general health, households should create small first-aid kits, and keep the kits in central and easy-to-locate places. Families on budgets can purchase goods like bandages and over-the-counter pain relief from discount stores for minor injuries and discomforts that can occur during natural disasters.
In addition to food and physical necessities, households in disaster-prone areas should keep their important documentation in secure areas. Both copies and originals stored in multiple places will help residents prove their identity and residency in case of home devastation. Home safes, filing cabinets, digital storage and even sealed plastic bags may help households prepare for the worst. Safe storage of vital documentation will give devastated households one less thing to do when rebuilding their lives or applying for emergency relief.