Louisiana DSNAP application window closing Wednesday
BATON ROUGE - Wednesday, Oct. 13 is the last day for residents affected by Hurricane Ida can apply for disaster food assistance.
Louisiana received approval on Sept. 29 to extend its application period after the program's hotline was plagued with long waits and dropped calls for over a week.
It's the second largest DSNAP event since Hurricane Gustav. About $57.4 million in benefits have been issued so far.
"We've probably taken over 260,000 calls at this point and processed over 180,000 cases," said DCFS Asst. Secretary of Family Support Shavana Howard.
In the beginning, 350 calls were coming in per second. It led DCFS to extend hours and make changes to help people who were unable to apply during their assigned time, including a virtual hold option.
"Individuals can leave their phone numbers and we'll return those calls, and we've been able to return all of those calls," said Howard.
At the start, there were about 700 people answering phones, 1,200 at the peak, and now about 1,000 people are answering phones to assist survivors. More staff has been brought in from Texas and Oklahoma and other Louisiana state departments.
Parishes eligible for the 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 may call 888-524-3578 on the following days according to the following alphabet schedule:
October 11 – Residents with last names beginning with A-L
October 12 – M-Z
October 13 – A-Z (open to all last names)
In the future, DCFS says it plans to work closely with the federal government and start working with other states before the program kicks off to better manage and process phone calls. The virtual hold option will become a fixture for DSNAP moving forward.
Read the statement from the Department of Children and Family Services below.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services received federal approval to extend its Hurricane Ida Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP) operation by three days to provide the large volume of applicants more time to complete 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.
In the first phase of DSNAP operations, DCFS staff answered over 100,000 calls and processed more than 73,000 applications. Higher than anticipated call volumes jammed phone lines. At times, the DSNAP line received as many as 350 calls per second. DCFS responded by offering extended hours and a “virtual hold” in an effort to serve more callers and be mindful 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 from Phase 1 parishes must 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 applies to residents in Phase 2 if they miss their week to apply, they must wait until the extension period to complete their DSNAP application.
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