USDA eases program rules to aid Florida, other Irma-stricken areas
September 12, 2017
WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today outlined steps the U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken to help the people of Florida and other states and U.S. territories ravaged by Hurricane Irma, underscoring the department's commitment to feeding all those in need in times of disaster.
"USDA stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans struggling in the path of devastation created by this historic storm," Perdue said. "Working with our state and private-sector partners, we are actively taking measures to ensure that people in these areas get the food they need."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently approved a temporary waiver and supported other actions that will help households participating in the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Florida, Georgia and the Virgin Islands and the Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico access food in the wake of Hurricane Irma, including:
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; both actions will ensure families have access to their monthly benefits sooner during this time of immediate crisis.
Supporting Puerto Rico's action to issue all September Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on Sept. 5, before the storm.
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FNS is working closely with the affected states and territories to be ready, if appropriate, to make use of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) to offer continuing food assistance after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to prepare food at home. D-SNAP can be a critical tool in the recovery process, but it is not the first step, Perdue said, noting that FNS offers states a range of assistance from rescue to recovery.
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, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov.