USDA Helps To Provide Nutrition Assistance to States Hit by Hurricanes

September 13, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

USDA_logoThe last few weeks have been pretty rough for those in the South dealing with damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma (not to mention that Jose is still lurking out there). These states have experienced so much devastation, and yet we still have a couple more months to go in the hurricane season. One can only hope that any more of these massive storms this year will turn back out to sea.

In the aftermath, the recovery efforts continue. Going into the numerous activities under way by all federal agencies to provide assistance to families in need after these storms would comprise multiple pages, so we’ll focus here on some of the efforts by one agency – the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Starting with the most recent storm, Hurricane Irma, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service recently approved a temporary waiver and supports other actions to help households participating in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Florida, Georgia and the Virgin Islands, and in the Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico access food. These steps include:

  • allowing SNAP participants in Florida to buy hot foods and hot ready-to-eat foods with their benefits through Sept. 30;
  • supporting Florida’s plan to issue all September SNAP benefits on Sept. 7 and Georgia’s plan to issue all remaining benefits for September on Sept. 10, realizing that these actions will enable families to gain access to their monthly benefits sooner during this time of immediate crisis; and
  • supporting Puerto Rico’s plan to issue all September Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on Sept. 5, before the storm.

FNS also is working closely with the affected states and territories to make the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) available if needed to offer continuing food assistance after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to prepare food at home.

And as Texas and Louisiana continue to clean up after Hurricane Harvey, USDA stated that schools that are reopening in hurricane-stricken parts of Texas will be allowed to provide meals through the National School Lunch Program to all students free of charge through Sept. 30. USDA also is offering these schools some flexibility as to what they serve and when they serve it.

Along with granting these waivers, USDA also has offered flexibility to those stricken by Hurricane Harvey to implement congregate feeding, which is allowed in certain situations for summer feeding programs to provide critical food assistance to those in need in areas where schools are not yet open. Details of these and other waivers and flexibilities that USDA announced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/texas-disaster-nutrition-assistance.

The next few months will be hard for many folks in these states. Hopefully, they will receive the assistance they need.

Let us know if you have any hurricane stories to share, and what assistance you may need.

 

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