Applications for food assistance program quadruple, likely to continue to soar, local advocate says

ORLANDO, Fla. — The federal government recently gave Florida the green light to allow people who receive SNAP benefits to use their EBT cards to buy food online.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called the move a “no brainer.”

Advocates for those in need said that’s just one of the reasons the need for food assistance will continue to soar.

“Coronavirus

READ: Coronavirus: Here’s how to apply for unemployment in Florida

There’s a constant stream of new customers at United Against Poverty’s grocery store, a vital resource along Michigan Street for nearly two decades

Seven days a week, UP Orlando members get access to low cost fresh food, help with benefits and applying for jobs.

“You name it. People are coming here that have never really thought before in their lives they were going to need to seek assistance from somebody, but they're doing that now,” said United Against Poverty executive director Eric Gray.

He said requests for help with applications for both unemployment and SNAP have quadrupled.

Gray said he’s grateful that thanks to donations, current supply is meeting demand.

But he worries about an influx in need when Walt Disney World furloughs more than 40,000 employees starting next week.

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.