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Food Stamp Recipients Got Help Early Before Dorian. Now They Could Run Out

Jessica Bakeman
Palm Beach County Food Bank executive director Karen Erren speaks to an employee at the organization's warehouse in Lantana.

For people who don't have consistent access to food, the effects of Hurricane Dorian could linger for weeks.

Floridians who were scheduled to receive federal SNAP benefits, or food stamps, between Sept. 1 and 14 were allowed to get that help early, on Aug. 31, so they could prepare for the storm. But advocates worry they could run out of food by mid-September.

"There have been unexpected expenses. There might have been lost wages," said Karen Erren, executive director of the Palm Beach County Food Bank. "Because they received their SNAP dollars early, they may not be able to make it through the month."

Hurricanes cause a variety of economic problems that could add up to hunger.

People have to spend money on the unexpected costs of preparing their homes and families for storms. Some lose pay if they're not able to work. And kids don't get the meals they normally would at school because of closures.

Local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters help get people the sustenance they need, and they're experiencing higher demand because of Hurricane Dorian. Erren said she heard from a pantry that ran out of food this week.

Nearly 185,000 people in Palm Beach County experience food insecurity, according to national data.

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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