WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2018 — To provide relief from the impacts of Hurricane Michael, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will allow participants in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 23 Georgia counties to buy hot foods with their benefits through Nov. 17, 2018.
“Hurricane Michael ravaged communities, leaving thousands across the South without power and other services for days,” said USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “We are working with our state and private partners every day to give citizens in need flexibility, so they can feed their families and get back on their feet.”
The purchases are allowed in the following Georgia counties: Baker, Ben Hill, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Randolph, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Webster, and Worth.
“Hot foods” include items sold at authorized SNAP retailers that are hot at the point of sale. This temporary policy, requested by the state and approved by USDA, addresses the inability of those SNAP participants affected by the disaster to prepare food at home. SNAP authorized retailers may need between 24-36 hours to be ready to accept SNAP benefits for hot foods due to programmatic changes that may be required at their stores.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA has taken to help residents, farmers and ranchers affected by Hurricane Michael.
Following Hurricane Michael, FNS has worked with state officials to support residents in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia by:
- Granting waivers increasing flexibilities in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for schools in Florida’s Gulf and Washington Counties;
- Satisfying requests for almost 900 cases of USDA foods in four Florida counties;
- Extending certification periods and waived periodic reporting requirements for ongoing Florida SNAP households in Bay, Calhoun, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, and Liberty counties. This waiver will ensure ongoing households continue to receive crucial nutrition assistance and allow the state agency to sustain timely processing for ongoing SNAP households and new applicants.
- Extending the amount of time SNAP households in North Carolina have to make a request for reporting of food lost as a result of Hurricane Michael and requesting replacement of SNAP benefits through October 31, 2018.
- Allowing schools in Brunswick County, Virginia to serve meals that do not meet the school breakfast and lunch meal pattern requirements through October 31, 2018.
Each of these actions has helped streamline program administration and participation to better meet the expanded needs of those affected by the disaster.
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.
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