USDA distributes food boxes as D-SNAP delayed |

USDA distributes food boxes as D-SNAP delayed

The Agriculture Department is distributing boxes of U.S.-produced food in Texas amidst criticism that the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as D-SNAP, has not gone into effect.

USDA announced it would approve the use of D-SNAP for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Under D-SNAP, electronic benefit transfer cards for participants in the SNAP program are reloaded with additional benefits to make up for food lost in a natural disaster, and people with incomes slightly higher than is usually allowed can get benefits.

But The Texas Observer reported Sept. 6 that the program had not yet gone into effect.

Meanwhile Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the food boxes families will receive are a short-term measure designed to address an immediate need for food until a longer-term solution is ready to be put in place.

“People in Texas are hurting,” Perdue said. “And we at USDA are working hard with the state of Texas and our private-sector partners to make sure that households displaced in the aftermath of this epic storm get the food they need.”

The Disaster Household Distribution program is approved to start today, USDA said. The Texas Department of Agriculture will work directly with its partners, the Feeding Texas and local food banks, to issue food boxes to participants located in presidentially declared disaster areas.

Texas food banks will use their network of pantries to distribute foods in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Each of the packages will contain 25-30 pounds of USDA foods and will be based on existing shelf-stable items in identified food banks.