In both Broward and Miami-Dade, massive lines and traffic congestion formed as the open enrollment events in Broward and Miami-Dade for the federal Disaster SNAP benefit food program related to Hurricane Irma begin Tuesday.
Thousands of people lined up outside the BB&T Center in Sunrise and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens hours before the events began at 7 a.m.
At both locations, those attending will be served by the first letter of their last name depending on the day and run until 6 p.m.: the Tuesday event will serve those with the last names from A through F; the Wednesday event will serve G through P; and the Thursday event will serve Q through Z.
The benefits, known as D-SNAP and formally the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provide food benefits to people affected by disasters. People who normally are not eligible for SNAP benefits may qualify for D-SNAP, depending on income.
Bags or personal items larger than 12 inches by 12 inches, backpacks, coolers and chairs will not be permitted inside and Hard Rock Stadium's clear bag policy will be in effect.
The Florida Department of Children and Families said it has worked with the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Broward County Sheriff's Office and other non-governmental organizations and agencies to ensure the events at both locations run safely and efficiently, as thousands of people queued in lines in previous events after Hurricane Irma to apply.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said the DCF has processed nearly 1 million D-SNAP applications in just over 30 days of operations, adding that nearly 1 million households have been given supplemental SNAP benefits and nearly 1.5 million households have had their SNAP benefits replaced.
"This means $1.2 billion has been put into families’ hands to buy food across the state,” Carroll said in a statement. “I’m proud of the effort our staff has made, with half of the agency contributing to this operation. These efforts will continue when we return to Miami-Dade and Broward counties next week to again serve families in these communities."
For more information, visit the DCF's website.