Food stamp recipients in Shreveport and other Louisiana cities could see a delay in their benefits thanks to Hurricane Isaac, and the relief effort.
"Nothing. Pancakes has been what I've been eating for a couple of days," said Kena Living, as she looks into her refrigerator.
Livng has just moved to Shreveport from Georgia, and she's looking for ways to feed her son and her mom until she gets work.
"I'm trying to get back on my feet, and I'm trying to use help to bind us over until we get where we need to be," said Living.
She took a recent trip to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services in Shreveport to apply for food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
"I was totally caught by surprise, nobody is even here for you to talk to anyway," said Living.
The reason, she was told, was Hurricane Isaac. 191 case workers from Shreveport have traveled to the affected areas to help process applications for victims of the hurricane.
"Anytime there is a disaster DCFS is called in, we've been in disaster response since august 26th," said Trey Williams, the Communications Director for DCFS.
He says some new applications for food stamps will be delayed as a result of the recovery effort. And that some recipients will go without benefits for more than 30 days - a timetable set forth by the USDA – a timetable that only serves as a guideline.
But if a person is completely without food Williams says help is still available to them, even with the relief effort underway. "Well, if someone is in immediate need there is that provision that allows benefits within five days," said Williams.
According to Williams, Living's delay is not a direct result of Hurricane Isaac, but because she took a few extra days providing additional verification of her eligibility.
But Living says a lot of the confusion for her and others in Shreveport could have been cleared up if case workers had been available in the Shreveport office.
"How much longer do I have to wait? I've been waiting since august 55th," said Living.
The answer: According to the Baton Rouge office she'll have her benefits on Thursday.
The USDA has issued a waiver for applicants who are reapplying. Those applicants won't be required to reapply for three months. That will allow the case workers returning on Friday to totally focus their efforts on all of the new applicants.
Williams estimates that they'll be caught up in a week's time.
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