Help is on the way for Florida residents struggling to put food on the table after Hurricane Irma.
The Florida Department of Children and Families and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is starting the Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance Program in 48 counties affected by storm.
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 Sept. 5, and not be receiving food assistance through the regular Food Assistance Program.
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 incurred other disaster related expenses. Applicants must also be financially eligible.
DCF will provide Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to eligible individuals and families to use at authorized USDA food retailers. The program counts only income and expenses from Sept. 5 through Oct. 4.
Food for Florida pre-registration will be available on the Food for Florida website and open for people in need of food assistance in eligible counties through Oct. 30. Food for Florida sites in Pinellas, Bradford, Union, Alachua, Lake, Sumter, and Citrus counties will open next week. Individuals who lived or worked in these counties can pre-register beginning today at 2:00 p.m.
Pre-registration for other eligible counties will be available before the local sites open. Individuals, families, and authorized representatives who pre-register must still visit a Food for Florida site, listed on the Food for Florida website, to be interviewed. Individuals may also apply at the Food for Florida site locations without pre-registering. Applicants must have a valid Florida driver license or identification card.
Details on local Food for Florida sites will be posted on the Food for Florida website as they become available.
"We are working around the clock to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma damage," DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said in a news release. "We will continue to stand side-by-side with those who need us as they get back on their feet. We encourage those in need of food assistance to pre-register if possible through the website so we can quickly serve those in need."
For more information on pre-registration, site locations and hours of operation, visit the Food for Florida website.