NEW ORLEANS -- As the deadline approaches to qualify for disaster food stamps, the lines are getting longer at DSNAP sites in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.
So many people showed up that the lines were cut off at noon Monday. Workers at the Lakfront Arena expect to be processing all the applications that came in Monday until 7:30 p.m.
So far there is no guarantee that the application period will be extended in Orleans and in Jefferson parishes beyond Tuesday’s deadline.
The Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services, which administers the disaster food stamp program for the federal government, admits there was an unexpected crush of applicants Monday in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
This is first day when people with last names beginning with A through Z were allowed to apply, and the first day where applicants had to apply in their home parishes.
“We did see a larger than normal number, larger than we would have anticipated,” said Trey Williams, a spokesman for the Department of Children & Family Services. “Because of that we had to close the sites early today around noon."
Long lines wrapped around the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans and the Alario Center in Westwego. Applicants had a long list of complaints.
“I think it is a little disorganized. I think because of the people, because of the amount of people I think it’s a little disorganized,” said DSNAP applicant Ann Sylvester.
“Do you realize we’ve been in this line before 8:30 this morning?” said DSNAP applicant Althea Ridgley. “And you got to come here, sit in the long line there, then sit all the way over here and I’m very aggravated.”
“They figure we’re cattle, so we’re going to run out here for these stamps,” said DSNAP applicant Pearl Jackson. “I came because I need stamps just like anybody else, but not to the point of this. You can’t get in there.”
Computers were also down for a time at the Alario Center, which slowed the application process.
The program, now know as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or DSNAP, provides food assistance to eligible households due to lost income or damage from the storm.
Williams said despite the long lines, he’s not sure if applications will be taken in Orleans and Jefferson beyond Tuesday’s cut-off date.
“We’re assessing the numbers right now and looking at all options,” Williams said. “That is a decision that will be made later today on whether we will request and extension.”
Tuesday is expected to be another busy day at the DSNAP sites.
“We’ve been out here since 6 a.m.,” said DSNAP applicant George Payne. “The line moves pretty fast. You get out here early enough, you move kind of fast.”
Doors open Tuesday at 8 a.m.