noembed noembed

Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Revamped Emergency food stamps

From the Sun-Sentinel

The state is overhauling its $350 million program to help people pay for groceries after a hurricane, with new reforms designed to deliver help faster and reduce fraud.

The Food for Floridians program, which provides a debit card worth one month of groceries to families who lose wages or food after natural disasters, experienced snafus that delayed aid to tens of thousands of Floridians for weeks after Hurricane Wilma struck in October. Uncounted numbers of others received aid although they didn't qualify, state officials admit.

Now, officials will take applications by telephone immediately after a hurricane strikes, and the state is ratcheting up efforts to verify each applicant's eligibility. When the state opens service centers in the disaster area days later, those families who pre-apply will pick up electronic debit cards immediately rather than wait for weeks as they did in 2005.
This will indeed be an improvement. People's losses due to spoilage from lack of electricity is immediate while help would someimes come two months later.

Most recipients are low-income families battling to stay off public assistance, although some middle-income families might qualify if they have heavy storm losses and no cash flow.

The response last year was massive. Over five days, more than 150,000 people in Broward County applied for aid, as well as 104,000 in Palm Beach County and 317,000 in Miami-Dade: a total of $232 million in debit cards.

But problems plagued the system. Service centers accepting applications didn't open until three weeks after the storm blew out to sea. Debit cards were supposed to arrive in applicants' mailboxes a few days later, at least in time for Thanksgiving. But up to 32,000 people didn't get their cards until Christmas, if at all, because of a still-unexplained glitch by the card-issuing company, JPMorgan.

Some applicants stood in line in Palm Beach County for six hours. The process went more smoothly in Broward, with more than 1,000 people processed in an hour, but there was no service center in Fort Lauderdale, where many families struggled weeks without power or employment.
These foodstamps aren't the same as ordinary ones. Families with losses and income in the $50,000 range qualified.

Oh TFM knows all about the glitches. I blogged about it before the local MSM caught onto the story. The Palm Beach Post never reported the JP Morgan debacle at all, and didn't even report these changes. I think they're ashamed at the Post, you missed one story now put your heads in the ground ignoring this news. What else explains the non-coverage by the Palm Beach Post?

Yes the lines were ridiculous but after the first day or two, they were more managable. A friend went and applied and stood in line for 30 minutes.

As soon as a disaster is declared, DCF will give the news media a telephone number and Web address where people can pre-apply for cards. Officials acknowledge that victims may have trouble finding a telephone that works, let alone Internet access.

Applicants must provide driver's licenses, their income plus the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of everyone in their households.

Staffers will verify the information using government databases and screen out ineligible applicants and bogus identities. People receiving food stamps are ineligible. Eligibility depends on income compared to the number of people in homes.

Service centers will open 10 days after the storm, not three weeks. People who did not pre-apply will go through the same procedures as before, but those who called in earlier should zip through special lines in minutes. After showing proof of identities, they will receive debit cards on the spot rather than having to wait weeks for the mailman.
We'll have to wait till the next disaster to see if this works. Hopefully I'll go 28 more years like I did 76-04 without a hurricane hitting the area of Florida I resided in.

Open Post- Jo's Cafe, Blue Star, Pursuing Holiness,

Listed on BlogShares