BATON ROUGE — Wednesday, Oct. 13 is the last day for residents affected by Hurricane Ida to apply for disaster food assistance.
Louisiana received approval Sept. 29 to extend its application period after the program’s hotline was plagued with long waits and interrupted calls for more than a week.
This is the second largest DSNAP event since Hurricane Gustav. About $57.4 million in benefits have been paid out so far.
“We’ve probably taken over 260,000 calls at this point and handled over 180,000 cases,” DCFS Asst said. Family Support Secretary Shavana Howard.
At first, 350 calls were coming in per second. This led DCFS to extend hours and make changes to help people who were unable to apply during their allotted time, including a virtual retainer option.
“Individuals can leave their phone numbers and we will return those calls, and we were able to return all of those calls,” Howard said.
At first there were about 700 people answering the phones, 1,200 at the peak, and now about 1,000 people are answering the phones to help survivors. More personnel were brought in from Texas and Oklahoma and other Louisiana state departments.
Parishes eligible for DSNAP include Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin (only lower St. Martin Parish zip codes 70339 and 70380), St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana Parishes.
During the extension, residents of these parishes who have not yet applied for DSNAP can call 888-524-3578 on the following days according to the following alphabetical schedule:
October 11 – Residents whose last name begins with AL
October 12 – MZ
October 13 – AZ (open to all surnames)
Going forward, DCFS plans to work closely with the federal government and begin working with other states before the program launches to better manage and process phone calls. The virtual hold option will become a must for DSNAP in the future.
Read the statement from the Ministry of Children and Family Services below.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services has received federal approval to extend its Hurricane Ida Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (DSNAP) program for three days to provide more time to the large number of applicants to complete the DSNAP interviews.
According to the request approved by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the DSNAP extension period will begin on October 11 and run through October 13.
During DSNAP’s first phase of operations, DCFS personnel answered more than 100,000 calls and processed more than 73,000 requests. Higher than expected call volumes jammed phone lines. Sometimes the DSNAP line received up to 350 calls per second. DCFS responded by offering extended hours and “virtual hold” in an effort to serve more callers and be considerate of those with limited phone minutes. The DSNAP extension is an attempt to serve those who were still unable to apply during their assigned week. Residents of Phase 1 parishes should wait until October 11-13 to apply and interview, and should not call during Phases 2 or 3 as they will not be able to be served during those weeks. The same goes for Phase 2 residents if they miss their week to apply, they must wait for the extension period to complete their DSNAP file.