The Clewiston News

USDA approves D-SNAP for Florida disaster counties

WASHINGTON — Floridians struggling with the after effects of Hurricane Irma could be eligible for help buying food through USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Sept. 22.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that households who may not normally be eligible under regular SNAP rules may qualify for D-SNAP – if their income is under the disaster limits and they have qualifying disaster-related expenses.

“The D-SNAP program USDA is announcing today is an important step forward,” Perdue said. “Other food assistance is already underway, but D-SNAP will provide the continued support our neighbors in Florida need, as they get back on their feet after this epic storm. We’re with you, Florida – all the way.”

D-SNAP eligible households in the affected areas will receive two months of benefits, equivalent to the maximum amount of benefits normally issued to a SNAP household of their size, to meet their food needs as they settle back home following the disaster. To be eligible for D-SNAP, a household must have lived or worked in an identified disaster area on Sept. 5 (when mandatory evacuation orders began), have been affected by the disaster, and meet certain D-SNAP eligibility criteria.

Although each disaster situation is unique, D-SNAP is most appropriate in the recovery phase after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to purchase and prepare food at home. Before operating a D-SNAP, a State must ensure that proper public information, staffing and resources are in place.

“We are working around the clock to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma damage,” said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll. “We will continue to stand side-by-side with those who need us as they get back on their feet. We encourage those in need of food assistance to pre-register through the website so we can quickly serve those in need.”

The D-SNAP announcement today is the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions to help Florida cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include the early release of September benefits to all current SNAP participants prior to the storm’s impact, a waiver to allow SNAP participants to buy hot foods and hot food products with their benefits at authorized SNAP retailers statewide through Sept. 30, and mass replacement of 40 percent of household SNAP benefits to current participants in 52 counties. USDA’s actions extend beyond SNAP as well. For example, children attending hurricane-affected schools will be served free school meals through the National School Lunch Program through Oct. 20.

Details on Florida’s D-SNAP program, also known as Food for Florida, will be available at the Food for Florida website. D-SNAP sites will be posted on the website as they become available.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 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 www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.