Broward County

Food assistance centers close after people suffer heat exhaustion in line

People waiting in line at the FEMA food assistance center at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah on Saturday, October 14, 2017. On Saturday, food assistance centers in Miami-Dade and Broward closed after overwhelming response.
People waiting in line at the FEMA food assistance center at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah on Saturday, October 14, 2017. On Saturday, food assistance centers in Miami-Dade and Broward closed after overwhelming response.

Police had to shut down food assistance centers in Broward Saturday after various people waiting in snarling lines suffered heat exhaustion, officials said. They will remain closed on Sunday.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office would not immediately disclose which centers were closed off to those arriving Saturday afternoon, but did say police had to break-up arguments caused by frustrated participants, as well as help alleviate gridlocked streets. Those who were overwhelmed by the heat were given medical attention.

In recent weeks, the Department of Children and Families opened up several food assistance centers in South Florida after the state activated its Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also called D-SNAP.

Florida families seeking food assistance after Hurricane Irma will now be able to apply for disaster-related benefits in 48 counties across the state.

D-SNAP benefits are available to those who do not qualify for regular food stamps, but suffered a disaster-related loss because of Hurricane Irma and meet certain income requirements.

“Due to the safety concerns and overwhelming response of D-SNAP participants, Sunday’s program has been canceled. In the coming days, Department of Children and Families organizers will meet with command staff from the Broward Sheriff’s Office in order to better serve D-SNAP recipients,” said a Broward Sheriff’s Office spokesperson in an email.

“The long lines are evident of just how great the need is for this food assistance program for Broward residents.”

Patrons in line inside the participating parks will receive service Saturday. However, those waiting in line outside the parks will not receive service, police said.

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan

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