USDA To Help Many Affected by Wildfires

USDA To Help Many Affected by Wildfires

October 1, 2020

Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Available for Those In Need Due Fires

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that low-income California residents dealing with the ongoing wildfires could be eligible for a helping hand from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP).
Secretary Perdue said that households who may not normally be eligible under regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rules may qualify for D-SNAP – if they meet the disaster income limits and have qualifying disaster-related expenses.
forests“USDA is committed to ensuring Californians affected by these wildfires have enough to eat and will be here to help throughout their entire recovery. D-SNAP will be a vital part of our ongoing, on-the-ground food assistance,” Secretary Perdue said.
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 amount for a SNAP household of their size – to meet their temporary food needs as they settle back home following the disaster. California 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, Secretary Perdue said, 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.
Although current SNAP (known as CalFresh in the state of California) households are not eligible for D-SNAP, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, USDA previously approved emergency allotments for California in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, ongoing SNAP households have already received the maximum allotment for their household size for the month of September. California will continue to issue replacement benefits to current SNAP households who lost food as a result of the wildfires.
The D-SNAP announcement today is the latest in a battery of USDA actions taken to help California residents cope with the wildfires. These include:
  • Allowing participants to buy hot foods with their SNAP benefits at authorized SNAP retailers in certain counties.
  • Automatic mass replacement of a portion of SNAP benefits for residents of specific counties who may have lost food due to the wildfires and associated power outages.
  • Extending the deadline for school meal program operators in certain counties to submit reimbursement claims for meals served;
  • Providing households in certain counties with more time to request replacement SNAP benefits for food lost; and
  • Retroactively distributing Commodity Supplemental Food Program food packages that The Redwood Empire Food Bank was unable to deliver in August due to wildfire-related road closures and evacuations.
Individuals seeking more information about this and other available aid should dial 2-1-1. For more information about California’s SNAP program, CalFresh, visit www.cdss.ca.gov/food-nutrition/calfresh.
Further, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) continues to provide significant support to California residents as part of its ongoing response to COVID-19. For more information on flexibilities provided to California, visit the FNS California COVID-19 Response webpage.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service 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. Follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.
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