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City's Disaster Food Assistance Program Under Fire

Friday, December 14, 2012

The city's Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) is taking fire from critics. The initiative offers one month of food stamps to residents in areas affected by Sandy.

But critics say that residents in faraway areas like Coney Island and Far Rockaway will have a tough time getting to the two locations where they can apply for benefits: food distributions centers in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and on Staten Island.

Far Rockaway Resident Gwendolyn Bethea was able to get to the Fort Greene location through MTA's Access-A-Ride service because she has a bad knee and qualifies for the ride. But she said it would've taken her about three hours by subway.

Joel Berg, who is with the NYC Coalition Against Hunger, said the city should be seeking to expand the program. He says it is missing a "huge" opportunity to bring federal aid into New York.

"I hope that common sense prevails over ideology and that they do see this isn't just a few loud-mouthed activists, but this is a profoundly broken program," he said.

Almost 178,000 dollars worth of benefits have been approved so far. That's a far cry from the $12.9 million that the city projected. But the week-long application period is just wrapping up its third day, and a city spokesperson says they expect more applicants over the weekend.

D-SNAP is available in 10 zip codes and parts of two others for eligible residents affected by Sandy.

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