Hillsborough Co. offering food stamps to residents impacted by Irma

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The impact of Hurricane Irma is still being felt by many Bay area residents.

Thousands of people in Hillsborough County are in need of simple things like food after losing all of their refrigerated goods due to power outages during the storm. Many of these residents can’t afford to replace food, so the Department of Children and Families Services’ program “Food for Florida” is stepping up to bridge the gap. The program is expected to serve 50,000  Hillsborough families.

Hundreds are waiting hours for assistance, and it’s causing a huge traffic backup on East Park Road in Plant City.

“It’s been a lot. This has been going on since 4 a.m., and they just started serving people at 7. So yeah it’s been a lot,” said Chandra C.

Chandra has been through a lot since Hurricane Irma came through.

“I did have some flooding. I have some hardwood floors that are peeling up. I’m still waiting on FEMA. When my electric did come back on because I had the flooding, my stove caught on fire.”

She had no way of feeding her three kids.

“It’s very heartbreaking. Because they depend on you for everything. You’re their source. So when my children come to me and they say they’re hungry and I have not eaten because I need to feed them, it’s real bad.”

Today, Chandra and hundreds of others qualified for help and will get assistance.

“I got approved and thank God I can go home and feed my children,” said Chandra.

“As a department we are very honored to be able to lead this program, to support our community in times of need,” said Natalie Harrell, director of communications for the Department of Children and Families.

To qualify for the Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance program, applicants must have lived or worked in one of the counties declared for FEMA Individual Assistance on September 5, and not be receiving food assistance through the regular Food Assistance Program (SNAP).

Additionally, eligible individuals and families must have suffered a disaster-related loss, such as damage to their homes or self-employment property, loss of food, reduction or loss of income, or have incurred other disaster-related expenses. DCF will provide or mail Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to eligible individuals and families to use at authorized USDA food retailers. The program counts only income and expenses from September 5 through October 4, 2017.

Individuals are encouraged to fill out the initial application for assistance online no later than the day before visiting the Food for Florida site. The application is available on the Food for Florida website

The Food for Florida disaster food assistance program for Hillsborough County will take place October 5 through October 10 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Plant City Stadium, which is located at 1810 E. Park Rd. in Plant City.  

Note: The line may close prior to 6 p.m. based on time to process those already in line.

 Applicants should come on the day assigned based on the first letter of their last name:

10/5 – A – E 10/6 – F – I 10/7 – J – M 10/8 – N – P 10/9 – Q – Z 10/10 – Make-up Day

Individuals should be prepared to potentially encounter long lines and are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and shoes along with sunscreen. For more information, visit www.myflfamilies.com/fff.

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