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Florida food stamps applications spike during pandemic

Posted at 10:44 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 23:20:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As out-of-work Floridians turn to the state for help, and food banks run low, the state’s food stamps program — known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — is seeing a spike in applications.

I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern found last month, during the week of March 16, the Department of Children and Families saw a 67% increase in the number of SNAP applications submitted compared to the week prior.

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Two weeks later, DCF saw another jump, with applications up another 68.6% compared to the week prior, with 45,146 application submitted as of March 30.

Over the last two years, the average number of households on Florida’s food stamps program every month is more than 1.5 million.

DCF said federal regulations require applications be processed within seven days for expedited SNAP benefits and within 30 days for regular SNAP benefits. Right now, the state reports it is meeting those requirements.

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DCF provided the following guidance for applying for SNAP benefits:

The fastest way to apply for benefits or reset a password is online.

Customers can also report changes, upload documents, and check the status of their application and benefits through their MyACCESS Self-Service Portal.

Customers can pick up paper applications outside of your local storefront or lobby. Drop box and instructions for customers are available at all storefronts and lobbies to submit information and applications without human interaction.

Customers can call DCF at 866-762-2237 or 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771) to request an application by mail. Completed applications can be submitted by FAX to 1-866-886-4342 or mail it to:

ACCESS Central Mail Center
P.O. Box 1770
Ocala, FL 34478-1770

A call center agent is available to take applications by phone at 866-762-2237 or 850-300-4323 (TTY 1-800-955-8771). Please note, this process is time consuming and may take up to an hour – customers are encouraged to utilize this option as a last resort.

To enhance services to our customers during this public health emergency, DCF has extended call center hours and agents are now available from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – Noon. Our self-service MYACCESS portal can answer most questions for existing customers and is the fastest way to get account information.