The Disaster Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP) will begin Friday in Sampson County and continue for extended hours through Oct. 6. Through DSNAP, food stamp benefits are provided to eligible households that not currently receiving food and nutrition services (FNS) benefits and have experienced a loss as a result of Hurricane Florence.
Individuals and families may be eligible for DSNAP if they were impacted by Florence and meet federal and state eligibility criteria. Income will be verified, per that criteria, Sampson County officials said. ID will be required and income for a certain period for all household members will be counted. Eligible disaster-related expenses will be deducted from the household income in order to determine eligibility for DSNAP, which is one-time assistance.
Applications will be accepted 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from Friday, Sept. 28, through Saturday, Oct. 6, (lone exception will be Sunday, Sept. 30) at the Sampson County Department of Social Services, 306 County Complex Road, Building E. Those visiting the DSS building are asked to follow the signs and traffic barriers in order to enter through the north entrance of the building.
Among others, Sampson County was declared a disaster county by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, authorizing DSS to administer the disaster food assistance program.
Residents currently receiving food stamp benefits, including those requesting replacement benefits, are not eligible for the disaster program.
Similar disaster benefits were offered following Hurricane Matthew, prompting a horde of people to line up at the Sampson Agri-Exposition Center for such assistance. The county had not offered such disaster food assistance for five years before Matthew, since 2011 when Hurricane Irene hit. Now two years after Matthew, it is poised to extend that assistance again.
Residents may qualify for assistance for a one-month period if their home was damaged or destroyed or they have disaster related expenses, or they lost income or had food loss because of a power outage or household flooding resulting from Hurricane Florence. Eligibility is based on available income and resources.
“DSNAP is not for current FNS recipients,” Sampson DSS director Sarah Bradshaw stressed. “Anyone can apply, but they should be aware that we do request income for all people living in the household and other eligibility criteria is involved.”
Bradshaw noted that regular FNS clients have been assisted, whether through replacement or supplemental benefits, since DSS offices opened back up last week. That will continue, Bradshaw said.
According to state officials, families have until Oct. 15 to report a food loss and request replacement benefits. That will provide additional time for families who cannot report a food loss to their local DSS office due to displacement, transportation issues or other storm-related hardships. For FNS benefits due to be recertified in September or October, the certification period has been automatically extended for an additional six months in 18 counties, Sampson being one of them.
That, state officials said, will ensure that families in impacted areas who have been displaced or their ability to complete the recertification process affected by Florence can continue to receive their benefits without disruption.
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.