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PRESS RELEASE

Department of Social Services News Update
DSS Secretary Williamson Announces Disaster Food Stamp UpdateBATON ROUGE (September 11, 2008) - The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) processed 52,876 Disaster Food Stamp applications today at 42 sites, and 131,270 applications have been processed since the program began on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

DSS and local emergency officials announced the temporary closure of 27 sites earlier today due to the threat of Hurricane Ike. One additional site joined the list of temporary closures tonight; the Amite Community Center in Tangipahoa. DSS and local emergency officials agreed that this is a public safety issue and that closings should be ordered in areas where residents have been ordered to evacuate, as well as in areas where evacuation traffic could be hindered or forecasts call for wind gusts that make the use of tents unsafe. DSS officials will work to ensure that those parishes will be able to make up any lost time with an extension of the application process.

Here is breakdown of today's numbers:

Applications processed
9/11/2008

Region 1 - Orleans 14,500
Region 2 - Baton Rouge 10.056
Region 3 - Covington 4,535
Region 4 - Thibodaux 8,697
Region 5 - Lafayette 10,344
Region 6 - Lake Charles 613
Region 7 - Alexandria 4,090
Region 8 - Shreveport 21
Region 9 - Monroe 28
TOTAL 52,876
(Applications processed are estimates
based on hand counts)

DSS has loaded $13,230,487 worth of benefits onto 26,837 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards. It takes between 48 and 72 hours for benefits to be loaded onto the EBT cards. DSS added 523 staff to 30 sites today bringing the total number of staff to 1,911. Fifteen sites that don't anticipate being affected by

Hurricane Ike will remain open in order to process applications. DSS staff will process applications in shelters, also. The sites that will remain open are listed below:

East Feliciana Parish Early Childhood Learning Center, East Feliciana, 9414 Plank Road, Clinton
East Baton Rouge OFS, EBR, 1919 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge,
Capitol High School, EBR, 1000 North 23rd Street, Baton Rouge
St. Gabriel Community Center, Iberville, 1745 Highway 30, St. Gabriel
West Baton Rouge OFS, WBR, 1622 Court Street, Port Allen
Castine Center, St. Tammany, 63350 Pelican Blvd., Mandeville
New Orleans Convention Center, 900 Convention Center, New Orleans
Peltier Park, Lafourche, 151 Peltier Park, Galliano
Bossier OFS, Bossier, 2123, Shed Road, Bossier City
Caddo OFS, Caddo, 1525 Fairfield Avenue, Shreveport
Ouachita OFS, Ouachita, 1306 North 19th Street, Monroe
Avoyelles OFS, Avoyelles, 607 Tunica Drive, Marksville
Alexandria Mall - Stein Mart, Rapides, 3437 Masonic Drive, Alexandria
New Wine Fellowship (opens at 1 p.m. on Sundays), St. John, 1929 West Airli! ne Highway, LaPlace

In order to help the elderly, Council on Aging staff members have been trained to administer Disaster Food Stamps. People 60 years of age or older should contact their local parish Councils on Aging for the nearest Disaster Food Stamp Assistance Application Site for seniors. If the local Council on Aging is not available, seniors should contact the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs at 1-877-340-9100.

DSS Secretary Ann Silverberg Williamson emphasized that the Disaster Food Stamps program has strictly defined income eligibility and can only be used for the purchase of food, and reminded participants in the regular Food Stamp Program that they do not need to apply. Their benefits are lifted automatically to the maximum amount allowable for September and their August benefits have been increased by 20 percent in order to replace lost food.

For the latest information on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, visit emergency.louisiana.gov or call the state's emergency hotline at 1-866-288-2484 to listen to a recorded message with the most up-to-date information.

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