Nearly 6,000 people applied for SNAP Benefits in person at the Highlands County Fairgrounds between Saturday and Monday evening, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Hurricane Irma left people in Highlands County without power for more than a week, leaving many with spoiled food.
It was an anxious wait for Brooklyn Sneed, who stood in line applying for benefits with her two-year-old daughter.
“Worried and stressed,” Sneed said.
She said she’s been stocking up on food little by little. but it’s been very difficult to recover.
“Of course, it makes you feel bad,” Sneed said.
Thousands waited patiently in line to apply for SNAP benefits on Monday. Many said they were applying for the first time.
“It just set everything back,” one man told ABC Action News.
For two sisters, the real impact of Hurricane Irma didn’t become real until after the storm was completely out of the area.
“There was no gas, there was nowhere to go,” said Shayla Thompson. “You just had to stay at home until everything came bak up and running.”
Both her job and her sister Catera’s job were out of power and so for them, that meant no paycheck.
“You still have to pay those bills. even if they say oh, you know, we’ll give you more time, you still have to pay those bills and have food to eat and things like that,” Catera Thompson said.
It took people about an hour to get through the line for SNAP benefits. Usually, people walked out with a card that would be pre-loaded with a few hundred dollars to restock on food.
“This will help us get back on our feet,” Sneed said.
Those who missed the opportunity to apply in person in Highlands County are being instructed to go to the Lakeland SNAP application site on Tuesday and Wednesday.