WASHINGTON — U.S. Virgin Islands households recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria may be eligible for food purchasing assistance through the USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced.
Households that may not normally be eligible under regular SNAP rules may qualify for D-SNAP — if they meet the disaster income limits and have qualifying disaster-related expenses, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said.
“This is an important step forward,” Perdue said. “Virgin Islanders are facing monumental challenges as they recover from this devastating storm. Putting food on the table to feed their hungry families shouldn’t be one of them.”
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. To be eligible for D-SNAP, a household must have lived in an identified disaster area when either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria struck, have been affected by the disaster, and meet certain D-SNAP eligibility criteria.
In addition current SNAP recipients in the affected areas will receive disaster supplements to bring their October and November benefits up to the maximum allotment for their household size, consistent with the amount D-SNAP households will receive.
Each disaster situation is unique, Perdue said, explaining that D-SNAP is designed to be part of the recovery phase after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to buy food to prepare at home. Before operating a D-SNAP, a state must ensure that proper public information, staffing and resources are in place.
The D-SNAP announcement today is the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions to help the Virgin Islands and other areas cope in the wake of recent hurricanes, which include allowing Virgin Islands’ SNAP participants to buy hot foods with their benefits at authorized SNAP retailers statewide through Nov. 13.
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.
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