Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 9, 2008

CONTACT
Kathie Osterman, Communications and Legislative Services, cell (402) 326-4277 or (402) 471-9108

 

Disaster Food Stamp Assistance Changes Made

Lincoln – The Department of Health and Human Services said that streamlined processes will be in place Wednesday in Omaha for the Disaster Food Stamp Assistance program in response to the high number of people seeking help.

"This storm was a natural disaster affecting thousands of people. We're asking them to be patient. Just like it took time to restore power, and is taking time to clean up debris, it will take time to process these applications," said Todd Landry, director of the DHHS division of Children and Family Services.

Landry said some people erroneously thought they had only one or two days to apply, which may have lead to the high numbers at application sites on Monday and Tuesday. Once a person applies, their benefits will be available within two to five days.

"We're thankful that USDA's Food and Nutrition Service approved this assistance. They've said we can take applications through next Monday, July 14," Landry said. "However, we've asked for an extension and hope to get an answer soon. We're optimistic about it."

Landry hopes these changes, starting Wednesday, will streamline the process:

  • The Disaster Food Stamp application is now posted on the DHHS Website. It can be printed off and completed, then taken to one of the application sites where staff will review it with the applicant. It is at: www.dhhs.ne.gov/fia/Disaster-Application.pdf
  • A numbered appointment system will allow people to go home and come back at their appointed time.
  • In most cases, computer work will no longer be done by the same staff who meet with applicants, allowing more people to complete the application process.
  • Security will be improved to help the flow, reduce incidents of people cutting in line, and help with parking.
  • Efforts are being made to have some drinking water on site.

"We want to help people as quickly as possible; but for some, it may be easier for them to come later in the week when the lines are shorter," said Landry. "We are operating this special program, while at the same time keeping our other offices and programs going."

These application sites will be open this Wednesday though Saturday, and on Monday, July 14 (the times may fluctuate due to numbers of people at the site):

  • Salvation Army gymnasium, 24 th and Pratt, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • DHHS Office at 12001 Q St., from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Hall, 5005 S. 23 rd St., from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Family Resource Center, 3040 Lake St., from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Some people already receive food stamp benefits and need to get their spoiled food replaced. Some have never received food stamps before but need assistance now to help them recover from the storm.

Disaster Food Stamp Assistance has special rules to follow and some income guidelines apply. For example, in order to get Disaster Food Stamp Assistance, a person must either live or work a disaster-declared county and answer "yes" to at least one of the following questions:

  • Has your home or self-employment property been damaged or destroyed by the disaster?
  • Does your household have any other disaster-caused expenses?
  • Has your income been delayed, reduced or stopped because of the disaster?
  • Does your household have any cash or money in a back account which you cannot get to because of the disaster?

Under this special disaster program, there is a limit of one month’s assistance. After that one month allotment, applicants wishing to continue food stamp benefits must apply for "regular" food stamps at their local DHHS office and meet the income and eligibility requirements for the regular food stamp program.

Applicants must bring documents to prove their identity (such as driver’s license, wage stub, birth certificate) and where they live (such as rent or mortgage receipt, post office records, utility bills, driver’s license). Disaster Food Stamp Assistance applications will be audited after the event. People who get benefits they are not entitled to will be required to pay them back.

For more information about the Disaster Food Stamp Assistance for the Omaha area, contact DHHS at (402) 595-3400.

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Regarding the recent news release, Disaster Food Stamp Assistance Changes Made: A simplified Web address has been created for the Application for Disaster Food Stamp Assistance. It is available at two locations on the DHHS Website. They are:

http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/Documents/Disaster-Application.pdf and http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/fia/Disaster-Application.pdf.

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