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DCFS Encourages Residents to Pre-Apply for Disaster Food Assistance as Hurricane Season Begins

06.01.12 - As hurricane season officially begins today, June 1, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is encouraging residents to prepare by pre-applying online for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (DSNAP), formerly called Disaster Food Stamps.

"With hurricane season now upon us, it's never too early to prepare," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "I urge all residents, especially those living in coastal areas, to take advantage of our online pre-application for DSNAP."

Johnson said that while a DSNAP program is not in effect, now is the perfect time to pre-apply and be prepared for any storms that may occur this season.

DSNAP provides food assistance for eligible households who do not receive regular SNAP benefits and who need help buying groceries due to lost income or damages following a disaster. In the event of a disaster the state must request that the federal government initiate DSNAP, but can only make the request upon the activation of the Stafford Act.

According to Johnson, the pre-application process does not guarantee benefits, but is designed to save time, prevent long waits and to make it easier for applicants to collect the required income information before a disaster strikes.

"By completing the pre-application online, residents are taking a proactive step to prepare themselves and their families for a disaster," said Johnson. "I hope all residents will make pre-applying online for DSNAP part of their disaster preparedness game plan."

To pre-apply, residents can visit or and provide the following information:
  • Names, Social Security Numbers and Dates of Birth for each household member
  • Current address and parish of household
  • Monthly income for each household member
  • All liquid resources for each household member (cash on hand, checking, savings and money market account balances and certificates of deposit)
The information will be kept securely on file and will be confidential.

Residents without Internet access may call 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578) to pre-apply.

In the event that a disaster is declared and a DSNAP program is launched, residents who have pre-applied only need to visit a DSNAP issuance site to verify their information and identity, determine final eligibility and receive their benefit cards. Exact eligibility requirements and DSNAP issuance sites will be announced only after a disaster is declared.

Louisiana's federally approved system is the first year-round DSNAP pre-application process in the nation.

For more information on DSNAP and how to pre-apply visit

DSNAP is administered in Louisiana by DCFS and overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Read more about recipients' rights.