BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has received federal approval to provide 50% replacement benefits automatically to SNAP recipients in 26 parishes due to widespread power outages caused by Hurricane Laura.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) also granted approval for DCFS to extend the deadline for recipients in other parishes to apply for replacement SNAP benefits, to extend all SNAP certification deadlines by three months, and to waive formal interviews for new SNAP applicants during the month of September.
The automatic 50% replacement benefits will go to all SNAP recipients whose cases were certified before Aug. 27 in the following parishes: Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, Catahoula, Claiborne, DeSoto, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Union, Vermilion, Vernon, and Winn.
The replacement benefits, which are meant to replace food purchased with SNAP and lost due to the storm, will be loaded onto recipients’ EBT cards automatically later this week.
SNAP recipients in other parishes who lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to a power outage of at least 24 consecutive hours can fill out and submit a form to request replacement benefits. The deadline for requesting replacement benefits due to Hurricane Laura is Oct. 8. The deadline is normally within 10 days of the loss. The form, along with additional details, can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/SNAPLaura.
In addition to this waiver, all SNAP recipients will receive a 3-month extension on their certification deadlines, beginning this month. This means, for example, that if a SNAP recipient’s annual redetermination or simplified report was due in September, it will now be due in December.
FNS also approved a waiver to eliminate interviews for new SNAP applicants during September.
Applicants must still provide all documentation required to verify eligibility in order to be considered for benefits, but the formal interview has been waived.
These waivers are in addition to the “hot foods” waiver DCFS announced on Sept. 4. That waiver, granted by FNS last week, will allow SNAP and DSNAP recipients to use their benefits to purchase hot or prepared foods from retailers that accept EBT cards through October 1, 2020.
Regular SNAP benefits for September were issued Sept. 1, rather than on recipients’ normal issuance dates of the 1st through the 14th of the month. SNAP recipients who are not already receiving the maximum allotment for their household size will also receive a COVID-related emergency supplement to bring them up to the maximum. Those supplements are scheduled to be loaded on recipients’ EBT cards on Sept. 18. A chart showing maximums by household size can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/snap-allotments.
Information and updates for SNAP recipients related to Hurricane Laura can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/SNAPLaura.