USDA announces SNAP policy for displaced Puerto Rico residents
WASHINGTON — Individuals receiving benefits under Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), who have been displaced due to the recent hurricanes, can apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in the area where they currently reside, the United States Department of Agriculture announced.
This ensures that NAP participants who relocated as a result of destruction from hurricanes Irma and Maria receive much needed nutrition assistance even though they may not be able to close their current case in Puerto Rico, as would be necessary under regular procedures. The policy will facilitate access to nutritious food for households in immediate need, since NAP benefits cannot be used outside Puerto Rico.
“Paperwork should take a back seat in challenging times like these where folk are experiencing hardships in the aftermath of these devastating storms,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “This USDA policy will ensure families get the food they need, where they are, helping bring a bit of stability in trying times.”
In an effort to serve these displaced Americans, USDA has advised all SNAP state agencies to serve such households using regular SNAP eligibility rules, including expedited procedures as appropriate. Expedited procedures enable households to receive an eligibility decision within seven days rather than the typical 30 days, if they have very little income or resources.
The flexibility allows NAP households to terminate their NAP cases as soon as is feasible when systems on the island are restored. NAP participants will be asked to sign an affidavit stating that they understand that no member of the household may receive benefits from both NAP and SNAP simultaneously, and agreeing to close their NAP case as soon as possible. Once signed, households may receive SNAP for two months subject to SNAP’s normal eligibility criteria.
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The policy is in effect until Oct. 31, 2017.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, WIC, and SNAP, which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov.
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