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Disaster Food Benefits Available for Fire-Impacted Oregonians

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Oregonians in eight counties affected by the major September wildfires can apply for Disaster SNAP benefits starting Friday. (Bonnie Moreland/Flickr)
Oregonians in eight counties affected by the major September wildfires can apply for Disaster SNAP benefits starting Friday. (Bonnie Moreland/Flickr)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
October 23, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. - Disaster food benefits are available for Oregonians in eight counties affected by September's massive wildfires.

Dan Haun is director of self-sufficiency programs at the Oregon Department of Human Services. He said the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or 'D-SNAP' is meant to reach people in need who typically aren't eligible for food assistance.

"It's just an opportunity to take some of that anxiety that exists with all of the losses that individuals and families have had," said Haun, "and allow them to have a little something extra to bridge that gap as they get back to normal."

Disaster SNAP will provide a month of benefits. Haun said the plan is to take applications based on people's last names, starting with 'A' through 'E' today.

The last day to apply is Wednesday. The eight eligible counties are Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion.

Matt Newell-Ching, the public policy manager for Oregon Food Bank, said Disaster SNAP will be a crucial lifeline for families who've been affected by the fires.

"It's not only good for families who receive the benefits," said Newell-Ching, "but it's also good for our communities, because those food benefits are spent in local grocery stores and sustain jobs in our communities, which are also impacted right now. And so, it's a win-win for our communities."

He also noted for Oregonians who are immigrants, the program does not impact the so-called "public charge" test.

Newell-Ching said Oregon Food Bank has been helping get food to people in need.

"We have seen, in some areas, new points of food distribution developed," said Newell-Ching. "We also know that that's not enough, and that's why responses like Disaster SNAP are so critical for our communities."

People curious about their D-SNAP eligibility can call 211 or apply at 'disasterfoodassistance.org.' Folks can also find local pantries at 'Oregonfoodfinder.org.'

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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