Disaster program to open Saturday for Orange, Seminole

Food for Florida, the state’s disaster program following Hurricane Irma, opens Saturday in Orange and Seminole counties.

But if crowds are anything like those in other counties, expect long lines.

By the end of last week, more than 300,000 Florida families had already received disaster food benefits, state officials said, although applications in only half of the eligible counties had been processed.

It is the largest disaster food program in U.S. history, state officials said.

Mike Carroll, secretary of the Department of Children and Families, said his agency is working “around the clock” and has hired temporary staff to help handle the workload.

To qualify for the one-time aid, applicants must have lived or worked on Sept. 5 in one of the 48 counties declared a disaster area by FEMA,

and they cannot already receive food stamps through the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP.

They also must have suffered a disaster-related loss, such as loss of food, loss of income or damage to their homes or property used for self-employment.

Residents are encouraged to preregister for the aid at foodforflorida.org, though the website has been difficult to access because of demand.

And applicants are required to do an in-person interview at the time of registration.

For Orange County, registration will take place at Camping World Stadium, 1 Citrus Bowl Place in Orlando.

In Seminole, registration will be at Orlando Live Events, 6405 S U.S. Hwy 17-92 in Casselberry.

Those with a last name starting with the letter A through F should apply Saturday, G through J should apply Sunday, K through O takes place Monday, P through Z takes place Oct. 24, and Oct. 25 is a make-up day for all county residents.

Registration is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Only the head of household should come for the interview, officials suggest.

Applicants should bring a valid Florida drivers license or identification card.

ksantich@orlandosentinel.com. Follow @katesantich on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on orlandosentinel.com