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Food Assistance for Disaster Relief

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Disaster Nutrition Assistance

Last Published: 09/07/2018

 

Incident: Hurricane Maria

When: Sept. 20, 2017, and continuing

Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP)

  • On January 25, 2018, FNS approved Puerto Rico's second request to extend the below mentioned hot foods' waiver request through February 28, 2018.  The previous extension expired on January 31, 2018.
  • On Sept. 30, 2017,  FNS approved the request to waive Puerto Rico’s state plan requirements and allow hot foods to be purchased at certified retailers utilizing the EBT portion of the NAP card, and to allow the cash portion for purchases of hot foods at any retail outlet for the months of October and November.
  • On Nov. 16, 2017, FNS approved Puerto Rico's request to extend the delay in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 required NAP conversion to a 15 percent cash benefit portion for the months of October and November; allowing the 20 percent cash portion to continue for two months, through December 2017 and January 2018.

USDA Foods

  • FNS worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Family to approve a Disaster Household Distribution program which began on Sept. 26, and ended on Oct. 27, 2017.  This program distributed high quality, nutritious, 100 percent American grown and produced food – USDA Foods, directly to families affected by Hurricane Maria.  Puerto Rico’s Disaster Household Distribution food package contained approximately 9-16 pounds of USDA Foods. 

Child Nutrition Programs

  • On April 10, 2018, FNS approved Puerto Rico’s request to extend one Hurricane Maria related waiver to Child Nutrition Program operators. This waiver applied to schools and child care institutions that operate the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The previous waiver period expired on March 31, 2018.  Schools and child care institutions were able to continue to serve and claim all meals at the Free Reimbursement Rate through June 15, 2018.

  • On January 23, 2018, FNS approved Puerto Rico’s request to extend a limited number of Hurricane Maria related waivers to Child Nutrition Program operators. These waivers applied to schools that operate the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program and child care institutions that operate the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The previous waiver periods expired on December 31, 2017. Child care institutions were allowed to serve meals that did not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements through March 31, 2018. 

  • On Oct. 25, 2017, FNS approved a request from Puerto Rico to provide flexibility to serve all school meals (lunch and breakfast), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meals and snacks to children at no charge beginning Oct. 23 through Dec. 31, 2017. 

  • On Oct. 6, 2017, FNS approved a request to extend flexibilities previously provided to schools in what they can serve students in the Federal school meal programs, given the challenges of preparing specific foods during this period. Schools were able to serve meals through Dec. 31, 2017 (previous end date was November 3) that did not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements for schools and institutions in the affected areas. These flexibilities regarding the meal pattern requirements also applied to operators of the CACFP through Dec. 31, 2017.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

  • On March 29, 2018, FNS approved Puerto Rico's request to extend the time period to transact applicable food instruments for April-June 2018.  WIC-authorized vendors may have accepted Puerto Rico WIC food instruments with a first date of use in April 2018 until May 31, 2018, food instruments with a first date of use in May 2018 until June 30, 2018, and food instruments with a first date of use in June 2018 until July 31, 2018. In turn, vendors may have submited April food instruments for redemption by June 30, 2018,  May food instruments for redemption by July 31, 2018, and June food instruments for redemption by August 31, 2018.
  • On March 29, 2018, FNS approved Puerto Rico's request for a 3-month extension (through June 30, 2018) to continue to substitute previously-approved WIC food items; the previous approval expired March 31, 2018.
  • On February 2, 2018, FNS approved Puerto Rico's request to extend the time period to transact January-March 2018 food benefits.  WIC-authorized vendors may have accepted Puerto Rico WIC food instruments with a first date of use in January 2018 until February 28, 2018, food instruments with a first date of use in February 2018 until March 31, 2018, and food instruments with a first date of use in March 2018 until April 30, 2018. In turn, vendors may have submitted January food instruments for redemption by March 31, 2018,  February food instruments for redemption by April 30, 2018, and March food instruments for redemption by May 30, 2018.
  • On Dec. 22, 2017, FNS approved Puerto Rico's request for a 3-month extension (through March 31, 2018) to continue to substitute previously-approved WIC food items; the previous approval expired Dec. 31, 2017.  FNS also approved Puerto Rico's request for flexibility for December WIC food instruments' (FI) redemptions by participants until Jan. 31, 2018.  December FI’s batch was available in all clinics after Dec. 15, 2017.
  • On Nov. 24, 2017, FNS approved Puerto Rico's request to extend the time period to transact November food benefits.  WIC-authorized vendors may have accepted Puerto Rico WIC food instruments with a first date of use in November 2017, until Dec. 31, 2017. In turn, vendors may have submitted November food instruments for redemption by Jan. 31, 2018.
  • FNS and Puerto Rico worked together to extend the use of September 2017 WIC benefits through Oct. 31, 2017, that WIC mothers and children previously could not access.
  • FNS approved participant certification periods to be extended by 30 days to allow for continued WIC benefits until the Puerto Rico Department of Health is operational.
  • On Sept. 27, 2017, FNS approved the Commonwealth's request to substitute, through Dec. 31, 2017, when approved WIC food items are not in stock, due to the impact of the storm on inventory in the store:
  1. Juice. Participants were allowed to substitute 12, 16, and 46 ounce containers of juice, when the prescribed size was not available. Participants must have still selected 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice that met federal standards.
  2. Fluid Milk. Participants were allowed to substitute milk of any available fat content despite the designation of their food package. This equated to the addition of 2 percent and removal of any age-related restrictions on milk. Puerto Rico WIC also lifted the restriction on flavored milk and organic.
  3. Bread. Participants were allowed to substitute “any brand” of 16 ounce bread labeled “100 percent Whole Wheat” or “Whole Grain”. Participants were allowed to substitute 20 ounce size bread, including white bread. Participants were allowed to substitute white bread, buns or rolls, only if the participant’s prescribed whole grain food item was not available.
  1. Baby Foods. Participants were allowed to purchase combinations of single fruit or vegetable ingredients (e.g., apple-banana, peas and carrots, or apples and squash). However, any other types of mixtures such as infant food desserts (e.g., peach cobbler) or dinners (e.g., spaghetti and meatballs) could not be substituted as they are not consistent with the foods provided by the Program.
  2. Cheese. WIC participants were allowed to substitute one pound of cheese for 3 quarts of UHT or dry or evaporated milk.

 

Incident: Hurricane Irma

When: Sept. 4, 2017

Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP)

Child Nutrition Programs

  • On Sept. 15, 2017, FNS approved a request from the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) for waivers of requirements in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs' meal patterns due to emergency conditions as a result of Hurricane Irma. FNS approved the request to waive the weekly dark green vegetable requirement for the 4 municipalities currently under a Major Disaster Declaration.
     
    Puerto Rico Departamento De Educacion Website

 

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