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DCF Faces Costs In Food Program For Irma Victims

Nov 9, 2017

Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll told a Senate budget panel on Wednesday that administering a food-stamp program in 48 counties that were damaged by Hurricane Irma cost the state about $33 million as of October.

While the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or D-SNAP — is funded with federal dollars, the administrative costs of the program are borne equally by the state and federal governments. Carroll told Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Anitere Flores that he can absorb some of the costs in this year's budget and, moreover, that there are two trust funds that he can tap to help cover the costs.

To that end, the DCF submitted a request to the Legislature for an additional $10,933,871 in spending authority, about $243,000 of which has already been paid. The money is to cover a variety of costs, including technology and support, water and ice for clients, travel and accommodations for staff, food and water for staff, generators, air conditioning, private security and law enforcement.

The state's food-stamp benefits program is often referred to as SNAP. It provides monthly allotments of benefits to a wide range of low-income beneficiaries. During disasters, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service can authorize the D-SNAP program. Irma made landfall Sept. 10 in Monroe and Collier counties and caused billions of dollars in damage as it plowed up the state.

Flores, R-Miami, told The News Service of Florida on Wednesday that it would be ideal if Carroll could cover the administrative costs between a combination of finding money in his current budget and the $10.9 million request.

“But if it's something the Legislature has to address, we will,” she said.