Flood victims in five northwest Iowa counties may qualify for D-SNAP
Flood victims in five northwest Iowa counties may qualify for D-SNAP

State authorities are urging northwest Iowa residents who have lost food, appliances or jobs in recent flooding to check whether they are eligible for federal food assistance.

“Some people may be in a situation where they’ve never asked for government assistance before,” says Erin Drinnin, community access coordinator with the Iowa Department of Human Services, “but if you’ve experienced significant impacts from the storm, I would really encourage you to think about whether you might be eligible.”

The aid is called Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or D-SNAP. Drinnin said Iowa residents who live or work in five northwest Iowa counties can apply for it this week.

“You can either come to one of our designated locations. There is a location in each of the five counties. Those counties are Clay, Emmet, Lyon, Plymouth and Sioux,” Drinnin said, “or you can apply by phone.”

The toll-free number is 1-877-828-5648. For more information, visit the department’s website.

“The beneficiaries work or live in one of those five counties and were impacted in some way by the disaster. So you may have lost income because you couldn’t go to work or because your business was impacted,” Drinnin said. “You may have been impacted in some way with repair costs or housing costs when you couldn’t be home.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved D-SNAP benefits for victims of the severe weather that hit Iowa in April and May, including the devastating tornadoes in Greenfield and Minden. But Drinnin said very few people applied and only 15 households were eligible for the expanded food assistance.

“It’s pretty disappointing and probably due to a lot of factors,” Drinnin said, “either people didn’t know about it or they thought they weren’t eligible.”

Those who qualify for D-SNAP can use an electronic benefit card at eligible stores and purchase prepared, hot meals through August 1, which is not allowed under the traditional SNAP program.

“If you have a D-SNAP card, we encourage you to check with the retailer when you enter a grocery store and make sure you can actually use your benefits to purchase prepared meals,” Drinnin said.

Flood victims can apply for D-SNAP benefits this week at Crosswinds Church in Spencer, the Emmet County Fairgrounds, Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids, Le Mars Bible Church and Main Street Plaza in Rock Valley.

By Liam