Louisiana Update #5: Flood victims encouraged to preregister for DSNAP benefits 

DSNAP is being activated for the August 2016 Louisiana Flood and means that rural markets should be prepared to see a influx of folks new to SNAP benefits. Unfortunately, many of our smaller, volunteer-led markets are still deciding whether to become SNAP authorized.
Here are the markets in Louisiana currently authorized as SNAP retailers (of course, some farm stands may also be authorized and are not included in this list):
Abita Springs Farmer’s Market Abita Springs
Cane River Green Market Natchitoches
Capstone Farmers Market 5007 New Orleans
Common Ground Health Clinic-Farmers Market New Orleans
Creole Market New Iberia
Crescent City Farmers Market New Orleans (4 locations)
Inglewood Harvest Barn Alexandria
Lafayette Farmers And Artisans Market Lafayette
Leesville Main Street Market Leesville
Market On LaSalle New Orleans
Marketplace at Armstrong Park New Orleans
Ruston Farmers Market Ruston
Oberlin Farmers’ Market Oberlin
Pearl River Farmers Market Pearl River
Red Stick Farmers Market Baton Rouge (2 locations plus mobile market)
Sankofa Farmers Market New Orleans
Shreveport Farmers’ Market Shreveport
Winn Farmers Market Winnfield

This list contains a few that my information indicates are not currently active and a few of these (9 of the 22) are in New Orleans which is  not near enough to the flooded zone to help most folks.
Since the state has about 80 farmers markets listed in various places, the above list shows how ill-prepared the state’s markets are to absorb these new shoppers.

Of course, some of the markets in Mississippi can also serve this clientele as many of the parishes hit hard are close to the state line; that is, if the benefit users are aware of the rules and where the markets are in MS and if those markets are prepared to accept those temporary SNAP users.

My experience as Deputy Director of Market Umbrella before and after Hurricanes Katrina/Rita (and on staff still during the BP oil spill) showed how much markets can do during disasters to offer solace, community and healthy choices to people under enormous stress. We were one of the few places in New Orleans up and running in 2005 (we reopened November 22) with EBT access, working with our fellow markets* across the area to help producers recover and doing our best to help other outlets open in our city.

From the very beginning in 1995, the founders of our markets had hoped to attract a significant number of at-risk shoppers, but as they opened in the era of EBT, the market was on the wrong side of technology for many years. As a result though, our 2004/2005 SNAP pilot strategy was relatively well thought out and predicated on the reality that our markets had not yet attracted their share of low-income shoppers but had the potential to serve that group as well as the cash shoppers we had attracted. Our token pilot led to the visit in the summer of 2005 of Bill Ludwig and the Southwest Regional FNS staff with then Under Secretary of Agriculture Eric Bost in tow to see and celebrate our early SNAP token and incentive work. Interestingly, Ludwig remarked during the visit on how helpful a token system might be during disasters. As we wrote a few years later, we remembered that comment later in 2005 and reflected on prescient he had been.
That long preparation meant we had outreach and materials to use when the levee breaks and oil spills and floods came (yeah we’re getting used to it) and the staff trained to make it happen.
So what we now know is the ability to support the citizens of towns and cities to recover from a major disaster requires organizational sophistication and preparation, which most of our newly emerging markets across the state are still working to achieve.

It is time for the national market field to create a toolkit for disaster planning, both for its vendors but also for its market organizers in order to be prepared when (not if) a situation like the one unfolding in Louisiana hits their area. USDA and FNS can be very helpful in this planning with needed policy changes such as lifting the requirement of location-specific SNAP licensing/transactions, loosening the ban on on-site hot food again (as was done in past disasters). It would also be helpful for funders like the innovative Wholesome Wave to increase their incentive work for disaster-hit areas along the lines of the incentive we created together for the Gulf Coast fishers in 2010.

Let’s get ready, folks.

How DSNAP works:
If you already receive SNAP benefits and are eligible for disaster benefits, you do not need to pre-register, as benefits will be added to your benefit card automatically.

Pre-registering does not guarantee benefits. DSNAP is only administered after a federally declared disaster and after the state receives approval from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services to activate DSNAP services.After a disaster is declared, residents who have pre-registered only need to visit a DSNAP issuance site to verify their information and identity, determine final eligibility and receive their benefit cards. Eligibility requirements and DSNAP locations will be announced at the time of a disaster.

You may name an Authorized Representative to go to a DSNAP site on your behalf. Accommodations will be made for the elderly and those with disabilities to reduce on-site wait times.The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services  is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to preregister for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP).

DSNAP benefits are issued for one month, but they can be used for up to 365 days.  You will get your card when you go to the site, they will be loaded on the card within 3 days.
What amount will I receive in DSNAP benefits?

Household Size DSNAP Allotment
1 $194
2 $357
3 $511
4 $649
5 $771
6 $925
7 $1022
8 $1169
Each Additional Member  +$146

Source: Flood victims in Louisiana encouraged to preregister for DSNAP benefits | New Orleans – WDSU Home

http://www.katc.com/story/32814032/what-you-need-to-know-about-dsnap-food-stamps-benefits

 

 

 

*Deep appreciation for our colleagues at the Red Stick, Covington and Gretna farmers markets who, in 2005, were incredibly helpful to Market Umbrella and offered temporary spots to our vendors and help to our staff as needed.

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