Long lines form for food assistance in Plant City

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – There’s a huge need for food in Hillsborough County after Hurricane Irma. Thousands of families were stuck in traffic jams and long lines of cars hoping to qualify for food stamps to help with disaster relief. Some people even ran out of gas waiting to get in.

Cars kept rolling in Saturday at the Plant City Stadium with wait times lasting for hours. One driver told News Channel 8, “yes, six hours, since six this morning.”

Over two days we’re told more than 16,000 Hillsborough families have already made it through the traffic.

“Definitely an experience I won’t forget for a long time,” Joanne Dickerson said.

These families are trying to get approved for food stamps after suffering a loss during Hurricane Irma. Once inside, we’re told it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to nearly two hours to see if you qualify. Pre-registering online could help move you through faster. Back outside, many people are leaving their cars behind – choosing to walk – only to be turned away at the gate.

“We were waiting for over two hours and then ran out of gas,” Laura Brining said.

Brining walked a mile and had to hop into someone else’s car in order to get into the site. Officials with the Florida Department of Children and Families told us this is not a pedestrian friendly area – no sidewalks – and too much traffic congestion at the stadium.

“I think that they’re doing as best that they can,” Brining said.

Others see room for improvement. Another said, “They should’ve had more locations for the people and they should’ve did it more days.”

The Plant City Stadium site will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day until October 10th. Families currently using EBT are not eligible for help being offered here.

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.

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