WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2018– In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a temporary waiver that will allow participants in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Florida to buy hot foods with their benefits through October 31, 2018.
Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps emphasized the importance of the waiver, noting that many Florida residents evacuated to shelters cannot store food and are lacking access to cooking facilities as a result.
“In times of disaster, it’s critical for USDA to make it as easy as possible for people in need to make use of their benefits, so no one affected by this disaster goes hungry,” Lipps said. “Hurricane Michael caused historic damage and displaced thousands of Floridians. This waiver provides them with immediate help.”
Under normal circumstances, Lipps explained, hot foods cannot be purchased using SNAP benefits. Hot foods include items sold at authorized SNAP retailers that are hot at the point of sale. The waiver addresses the inability of those SNAP participants affected by the disaster to prepare food at home. SNAP authorized retailers may need 24-36 hours to be ready to accept SNAP benefits for hot foods due to programming changes that may be required at their stores.
This is one of many tools that USDA has available to aid states as they recover from disasters. USDA is ready to assist as needed to help program participants in all affected states who have lost food due to the disaster and to simplify the application process for affected households, upon request from the states.
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 American’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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