Food assistance continues for families hit by Hurricane Irma

- Hurricane Irma didn't just make a mess in the Bay Area when it made landfall more than a month ago. The storm also knocked out power in some areas for weeks. Many families had to throw out food or miss work, and paychecks. They are still struggling to recovery.

Thanks to DCF and USDA, financial relief has arrived, but lines are long. In Plant City, traffic backed up for miles outside of Hillsborough County’s Food For Florida site on Sunday.

Thousands came out to apply for the food assistance program, designed to help families who wouldn't normally qualify for food stamps, but whose bank accounts were hit hard by Irma.

Qualifying families are eligible for hundreds of dollars in food stamps.

“It depends on their particular situation and their disaster-related expenses,” explained Nichole Solomon, regional program manager for Florida Department of Children and Families. “Many people have different kinds of disaster expenses depending on whether they evacuated, whether their place of employment was shut down. It’s different for everyone so I would suggest to anyone who is not already a food assistance recipient and who incurred losses during the hurricane to apply for these benefits.”

Hillsborough County's Feeding Florida site will be open through Tuesday. Solomon says individuals should bring a photo ID and should also be prepared to potentially encounter long lines. Comfortable clothing and shoes are highly recommended. To cut down on wait time, she strongly encourages pre-registering online at www.myflfamilies.com.

The Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance Program will take place locally at the following sites:

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
Oct. 5 - 10
Plant City Stadium, 1810 E. Park Road
Plant City

HERNANDO COUNTY
October 9 - 11
Hernando County Fairgrounds
Brooksville

SARASOTA COUNTY
October 13 - 17
8201 S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota

POLK COUNTY
October 14-18
RP Funding Building
701 W. Lime Street
Lakeland

HARDEE COUNTY
October 14 - 16
Hardee Agri-Civic Center
515 Civic Center Drive
Wauchula

HIGHLANDS COUNTY
October 14 - 16
Bert J. Jarvis Agri-Civic Center
4509 George Blvd.
Sebring

MANATEE COUNTY
October 15 - 17
Desoto Square Mall
303 301 Blvd.
W. Bradenton

PASCO COUNTY
October 22 - 25
3032 Collier Parkway
Land O'Lakes

CHARLOTTE COUNTY
October 28 - 30
Location to be determined

DESOTO COUNTY
October 20 - 21
Location to be determined

Site locations have already come and gone in Citrus and Pinellas counties.

DCF says lines may close prior to 6 p.m., based on time to process those already in line.

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