Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DCF's "Food For Florida" is B.S.

Hurricane Irma is long gone but the effects still remain for many who were in her path.  Debris still line the streets and outline many front yards.  In some areas, giant logs from downed trees are still waiting for their final destination - mulch, firewood, the next tabletop... The roofs of some homes are still covered with blue tarps and screened-in porches are still damaged waiting for insurance claims.

The Department of Children and Families of the State of Florida (DCF) setup a "Food For Florida" program which was designed to help Florida residents who were affected by Hurricane Irma replace disaster-related expenses....food.  It is a special "disaster food stamp program" and to qualify, applicants may not already be receiving government assistance (food stamps).

The process is simple.  Go online to the DCF Food For Florida website and complete the application. Wait for approval. Go to a food site on the scheduled day and receive your share of  funds that the state set aside for emergencies and those affected by Hurricane Irma.

Seems simple enough, right?  The program has helped quite a few Floridians.  However, for the rest of "us", it is bullshit.  Apparently, if you make a certain amount of income or have money set aside in a bank, this hurricane did not affect you (us).  It magically flew over your location/dwelling/household, and struck ONLY low-income residents because those are the Floridians receiving this benefit.  The higher-income residents did not experience power outages and, hence, did not have to throw food away or stay in a motel 15-20 miles, or more, from home.  The higher-income residents did not have downed trees or damage to their property and they certainly did not miss any work.  This program only exists for those in the lower-income bracket because they were the only ones who saw hardship during this disaster.

I know this because I tried applying for this program.  I work full-time and have a bank account, which are probably the reasons I was disqualified.  But, I live in Polk County, which was named as part of the "disaster area"!  I also had to replace ALL of the food in the refrigerator due to being without electricity.  I missed work.  I found a very rare (they just re-opened) motel room to "live" in for a day before I was notified the electricity was restored in my neighborhood.  So, I had expenses.  I had "loss" and unexpected expenses due to this storm and I lived in the right county.  But DCF doesn't cater to people like me and this funding was not created for people with a sustainable income and/or money in the bank.  The affect on me and my household, financially, due to Hurricane Irma, is not applicable to DCF standards because I am employed...and it's bullshit!  Even more, the online application requests bank balances (checking & savings) and cash on hand.  Then it asks for expenses as a result of the disaster.  It doesn't account for rent, mortgage, electricity/utilities, car payments or other expenses that continued regardless of the storm.  The residents who work, put money back into the economy and pay taxes, are excluded.  I'm not rich.  The money in the bank is not exorbitant.  I do not live a lavish lifestyle.  I do not have funds set aside for disasters.

When a disaster strikes that affects all of us, we are denied the help that the state set aside for ALL residents in the affected area.  Don't be fooled by the "we're here to help Floridians during this..." crap.  It sounds good in the media and public relations bulletins, but it is a lie and the working Floridians are paying for it.

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