WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2012—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is coordinating with States and partner organizations to provide disaster nutrition assistance to individuals in 13 states affected by Hurricane Sandy.
In the State of New York, USDA is working with the state, the Food Bank of New York City, and partner agencies to distribute approximately 1.1 million pounds of USDA Foods. Food will be distributed through nearly 1,000 designated emergency feeding outlets to affected households in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland counties.
In New Jersey, USDA worked late last week with the State of New Jersey and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to coordinate the delivery of 39,000 pounds of USDA Foods to support congregate feeding efforts. The food bank will combine USDA Foods with existing food stocks to produce 15,000 meals per day for 5-7 days to be distributed in cooperation with the Red Cross and Salvation Army at shelters.
USDA is working closely with states and industry partners in affected states to remind SNAP retailers of the procedure for manually processing SNAP transactions during power outages, in order to ensure that SNAP recipients living in areas affected by power outages continue to have access to food.
In certain areas in New York, USDA has granted a waiver to allow SNAP recipients to purchase hot foods using SNAP benefits. Under normal circumstances, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase hot, ready-to-eat foods. USDA has granted this waiver to accommodate individuals that have lost homes, are affected by power outages, or are otherwise unable to prepare food due to damage caused by the hurricane.
USDA has approved requests from the states of Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Virginia and to issue automatic, mass replacements of benefits to SNAP households in certain areas affected by the hurricane. USDA has also approved requests from the states of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia to extend the time SNAP recipients have to report loss of food purchased using SNAP benefits and to request replacement benefits.
USDA and the Department of Education are partnering to remind states and schools of existing federal resources available through the Department of Agriculture. States and schools may use stocks of USDA Foods purchased for the National School Lunch Program to help prepare meals at schools, shelters or other feeding sites to help feed local residents who may be in need of nutrition assistance. USDA has also provided guidance to the directors of Child Nutrition Programs in all States to remind them of the options schools and other community-based organizations have to provide meals to children in areas affected by disasters including provision of meals to children when schools are closed or students are displaced due to natural disasters.