Hunger worries Pinellas poor as agencies work on solutions in Irma aftermath

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Francis Simmons says he spent his monthly food stamp allotment on emergency supplies before Hurricane Irma that have now gone bad due to a power loss at his home at the Bay Breeze MHP in Clearwater.

He doesn’t know how he’ll make it until October.

“How do we get our food replaced that we lost that everybody spent our food stamps on,” Simmons said. “And when is the next time we’re gonna get food stamps.”

DCF tells 8 on Your Side that help is on the way. The state is working on emergency mass replacement of food stamp money for current recipients that will amount to somewhere between 0 percent and 100 percent of their normal allotment.

The state is also working on the so-called “D-SNAP” program that provides temporary emergency assistance to storm victims that don’t normally qualify for food stamps. That process will take weeks.

Meanwhile, relief agencies like the Red Cross and Salvation Army are setting up hot food distribution centers across Pinellas and the rest of the Tampa Bay area.

In Pinellas you can find Red Cross food distribution at Phillip Benjamin Tower, Childs Park in St. Petersburg, Heritage Presbyterian Housing in Largo and Southern Comfort MHP in Clearwater.

The Salvation Army is feeding storm victims at Dunedin Community Center and Casa Santa Cruz ALF.

Those agencies tell us they’ve served thousands of meals.

Back at the Bay Breeze MHP, resident Candido Dominguez tells us he’s trying to make do with what he has and is surviving on a shoestring diet.

“Mayo and bread is eating,” Dominguez said. “Tuna and bread is eating, so you know what I mean, ’cause I’m trying to make it until I have the power to buy.”

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