Irma victims line up early in Marion County for food assistance

Program runs through Thursday at Florida Horse Park in Ocala

OCALA, Fla. – The Food for Florida disaster food assistance program opened in Marion County on Tuesday, helping individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Irma, officials said.

The Department of Children and Families, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, brought the program to Marion County from Tuesday through Thursday.

Lines formed early at the Florida Horse Park, south of Ocala and east of I-75, with the first person arriving at 3:30 a.m. Hundreds were in line a few hours later.

"We had no problem, nobody waited," Mary Hunt said. "I don't think my foot stood still for more than fifteen seconds. This is a fantastic location, It accommodates everything and everybody.  It's easy in and easy out as long as you don't mind standing in the cattle line, you're good."

"You're freezer's gone. Most of the stuff got thrown out and we've been living nitty-gritty, food wise.  So, I'm glad I'm here now," said Mary Jane Price, who also waited in line for assistance.

Officials said to qualify for the program, applicants must have lived or worked in one of the counties declared for Federal Emergency Management Agency individual assistance on Sept. 5 and not be receiving food assistance through the regular food assistance program.

Eligible individuals and families must also have suffered a disaster-related loss, such as damage to their homes or self-employment property, loss of food, reduction or loss of income, or have incurred other disaster related expenses, officials said. The Department of Children and Families will provide electronic benefits transfer cards to eligible individuals and families to use at authorized U.S. Department of Agriculture food retailers.

Officials said the program counts only income and expenses from Sept. 5 through Oct. 4.

People are encouraged to apply online prior to visiting the Food for Florida (D-SNAP) site, officials said. Online registration is available on the Food for Florida website.

Officials said one person per household should visit the site when applying and carpooling is highly encouraged to help reduce congestion in the area.

This will be the final Food for Florida (D-SNAP) site in Central Florida, officials said.

[RELATED:  Learn more about the Food for Florida program]

The Food for Florida disaster food assistance program for Marion County will take place Tuesday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Florida Horse Park at 11008 S. Highway 475 in Ocala. Officials said you must have a valid Florida driver’s license or identification card.

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