Biden to visit Puerto Rico, Florida amid agricultural destruction
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Puerto Rico today and to Florida on Wednesday amid reports of agricultural destruction in both places due to hurricanes.
In addition to the loss of crops and livestock, there may be price increases for certain products.
The White House said late Sunday that the Bidens will travel to Ponce, Puerto Rico. After receiving a briefing on Hurricane Fiona and delivering remarks, the Bidens will visit Centro Sor Isolina Ferré Aguayo School to meet with families and community leaders impacted by Hurricane Fiona, participate in a community service project, and thank the federal and local officials “working around the clock to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild.”
Later in the day the Bidens will return to Washington.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday that USDA is helping both consumers and farmers in Puerto Rico.
“Our thoughts are with all of the people affected by this terrible storm, especially in Puerto Rico, which has come so far in recovering from Hurricane Maria,” said Vilsack. “I want everyone to know that USDA is ready to deliver all the resources we have available to us to assist those in need.”
Vilsack issued a food safety warning and issued a list of several disaster programs that can help farmers and ranchers.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has also approved Puerto Rico’s requests:
▪ To use of USDA Foods from The Emergency Food Assistance Program for Disaster Household Distribution in response to Hurricane Fiona recovery efforts.
▪ For waivers in response to Hurricane Fiona that apply to the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option during unanticipated school closures. These waivers are effective through Oct. 31.
▪ To extend the expiration date to waive state plan requirements and allow hot foods to be purchased at certified retailers utilizing the Nutrition Assistance Program card. The amended waiver is effective through Oct. 9.
▪ For waivers and exception in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for school year operations in response to the recovery efforts for Hurricane Fiona. These waivers are effective through Oct. 31.
FNS has also approved Florida’s requests for:
▪ A waiver relating to Child Nutrition Program operations impacted by Hurricane Ian. Under the waiver approval, Florida Child Care Food Program institutions and sponsoring organizations, which are part of the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, may serve meals in a non-congregate setting. The waiver is effective through Nov. 25, with the expectation that it will only be implemented by program operators when meal service is limited or negatively impacted due to Hurricane Ian.
▪ Waivers relating to Child Nutrition Program operations impacted by Hurricane Ian. Under the waiver approval, during school closures when classes are not being offered, program operators in Florida may serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program or National School Lunch Seamless Summer Option in a non-congregate setting, adjust the time of meal service, allow parent pick up, and serve meals at school sites.
Additionally, when school buildings are closed but classes are being offered virtually, school food authorities may serve NSLP and School Breakfast Program meals in a non-congregate setting, adjust the time of meal service, allow parent pick up, and senior high schools are not required to use offer versus serve at lunch when meal service is impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Similar waivers were provided for the Special Milk Program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The waivers are effective through Nov. 25, with the expectation that they will only be implemented by program operators when meal service is limited or negatively impacted due to Hurricane Ian.
▪ Early issuance of October 2022 benefits to SNAP households that receive their benefits between Oct. 1 and Oct. 14. The statewide waiver applies to SNAP benefits in all households that receive benefits during this timeframe. The early issuance allowed households to prepare for the storm before it made landfall or immediately after.
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