USDA provides 20 hurricane-damaged Georgia counties with additional food assistance
WASHINGTON — As part of the continuing effort to provide relief from the effects of Hurricane Michael, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that households in 20 Georgia counties that may not normally be eligible for nutrition assistance under regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rules may temporarily qualify for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits. Households may be eligible if they have qualifying disaster-related expenses and meet D-SNAP income limits.
“Hurricane Michael cut across a large swath of rural America and disrupted the lives of thousands of families,” said USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “This assistance will help residents in parts of southern Georgia that were badly harmed get back on their feet.”
The timing and conditions of D-SNAP vary with the circumstances of each disaster, but the program always begins as a result of a request from the state after access to retailers has been restored and families are able to purchase food to prepare at home. Before operating D-SNAP in an approved county, the state must ensure that conditions related to safety and readiness are in place.
If a household in the affected area qualifies for D-SNAP, they could receive one month of benefits to meet their food needs as they settle back home following the disaster. Households in the approved areas that already receive SNAP benefits will automatically receive disaster supplements, up to the maximum allotment for their household size, and do not need to apply for D-SNAP.
The D-SNAP program will operate in Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Laurens, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Randolph, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner and Worth counties.
The state estimates up to 50,000 households may be eligible for benefits and will determine eligibility based on a household’s income, resources, disaster-related expenses, and other circumstances. The program may begin in some counties as early as Nov. 7, 2018. Affected households should look for public information notices from the state regarding the application process, location of application sites, and dates of application in each county.
FNS has also approved streamlined child nutrition program administration for schools in 13 hurricane-affected Georgia counties by allowing meals that vary from menu planning and meal pattern requirements. Those counties include Baker, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Miller, Seminole, Calhoun, Clay, Laurens, Randolph, Sumter, Tift and Turner. Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of steps taken to help Georgia residents cope with the effects of Hurricane Michael.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage America’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.