Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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USDA Announces Approval of D-SNAP for Florida Disaster Areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that low-income Florida residents recovering from Hurricane Ian could be eligible for assistance from the USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). The Florida Department of Children and Families submitted a request to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking for approval of Disaster-SNAP benefits, which help families who suffered losses or damage during a natural disaster by providing nutrition assistance.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said households that may not normally be eligible under regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rules may qualify for D-SNAP if they meet certain criteria, including the disaster income limits, and if they have qualifying disaster-related expenses. The Florida Department of Children and Families estimates that over 740,000 households may be eligible for D-SNAP assistance.

“USDA stands with our neighbors in Florida to continue to provide vital food assistance as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian,” said Secretary Vilsack. “The Department is prepared to extend any available flexibility that will improve food access during their road to recovery.”

To be eligible for D-SNAP, a household must either live or work in an identified disaster area, have been affected by the disaster, and meet certain D-SNAP eligibility criteria. Eligible households will receive one month of benefits – equal to the maximum monthly amount for a SNAP household of their size – that they can use to purchase groceries at SNAP-authorized stores or from select retailers online to meet their temporary food needs as they settle back home following the disaster. Florida will share information about D-SNAP application dates and locations through local media.

The timing of D-SNAP varies with the unique circumstances of each disaster but always begins 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 the proper public information, staffing, and resources are in place.

The State agency will offer a hybrid model that includes in-person and virtual D-SNAP operations. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is approving the use of virtual operations to facilitate the safety of participants due to COVID-19.

Details on Florida’s D-SNAP program will be available at the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Hurricane Ian Response & Recovery website. D-SNAP locations will be posted on the website as they become available.

The D-SNAP announcement is the latest in a series of USDA actions taken to help Florida residents cope with Hurricane Ian and its aftermath, which also includes:

  • Approving a waiver to extend certification periods for six months for all SNAP cases statewide due to recertify in November and December.
  • Approving an early issuance of October 2022 benefits to SNAP households that receive their benefits between October 1st and October 14th. The statewide waiver applies to SNAP benefits in all households that receive benefits during this timeframe.
  • Approving a waiver to allow SNAP participants to buy hot foods and hot food products prepared for immediate consumption with their benefits at authorized SNAP retailers statewide through October 31st.
  • Approving a mass replacements waiver in 19 counties (Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Okeechobee, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole and Volusia).
  • Approving a waiver to allow SNAP participants in 7 counties additional time to request replacement benefits for food that was destroyed. The waiver applies to residents in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Lake, Lee, Osceola, Sarasota, and St. Johns counties. Participants have until October 17th to report their food loss.
  • Approving waivers relating to Child Nutrition Program operations impacted by Hurricane Ian. Under the waiver approval, during school closures when classes are not being offered, Program operators in Florida may serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program or National School Lunch (NSLP) Seamless Summer Option in a non-congregate setting, adjust the time of meal service, allow parent pick up, and serve meals at school sites. The waivers are effective through Nov. 25, 2022.
  • Approving a waiver relating to Child Nutrition Program operations impacted by Hurricane Ian. Under the waiver approval, Florida Child Care Food Program (CCFP) institutions and sponsoring organizations, which are part of the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), may serve meals in a non-congregate setting. The waiver is effective through Nov. 25, 2022.
  • Approving a waiver for Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) open sites at alternative site locations as proposed during unanticipated school closures effective immediately, through Oct. 31, 2022, or until the end of the unanticipated school closures related specifically to Hurricane Ian.
  • Approving the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) election deadline for Collier County Public Schools in order to support access to nutritious meals while Collier County Public Schools mitigates the administrative, fiscal, and operational challenges caused by Hurricane Ian.

In response to Hurricane Ian, the Department released over $235 million in SNAP benefits to more than 773,500 households who were at risk of being impacted by Hurricane Ian – that means 1.4 million individuals received their benefits before the storm hit so they could adequately prepare their food supply.

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