Confusion at food stamp sites


Posted on September 5, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 5 at 6:01 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

Click here for info on applying for food stamps

NEW ORLEANS -- Thousands of people across nine parishes poured into the places the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services set up to hand out disaster food stamps.

And while the process was orderly, there were some problems on this first day.

In the hot mid-day sun, long lines snake around the UNO Lakefront Arena. People coming out with their cards in hand tell us they had a 3 hour and 15 minute wait.

Our camera was not allowed inside the arena due to confidentiality of the applicants, but when you go inside on the ground level on the floor of the arena, there are tables set up where applicants are filling out their applications. They're working with some of the government workers.

And then there are people sitting up in the stands waiting their turn, but the stands are not completely full.

“Once we got inside 75 percent of the arena’s empty,” said Alicia. “We just waited too long outside in the heat. If we could have went inside and waited it would have been a little bit better. But once we got inside there are not enough workers, so just not going to do it today.”

One man complained to us about the heat while we were talking to a program official. Ten minutes later, the outside lines were moved into the shade under the arena overhang.

But then there was another problem: the lot was so full that everyone had to park in the back lot, far ways from the entrance. The elderly and the disabled struggled.

“We have people round there in wheelchairs sitting half way, they walking a few feet and stopping, and no one seems to know who's in control,” said Tina Wilson. “My brother's around there. He just had a kidney transplant. He's trying to get his assistance. There's no entrance for him. It's ridiculous."

Seniors and the disabled can go in a special door and get helped faster.

“I walked up and went right on in, and maybe five minutes or so, and then I got service,” said Mrs. Campbell.

It's best to register online, and some people don't need to go to the distribution sites.

“If you are currently a DCFS client and you receive snap benefits on a regular basis, you do not have to come to a facility like this for disaster benefits because in those situations we load benefits onto your card that you already have,” said Richard Howze, undersecretary with the Department of Children and Family Services.

Click here for more info on applying for food stamps