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USDA Helps Hurricane Harvey Evacuees to Obtain Expedited Nutrition Assistance

Release No.
0099.17

Contact:
FNS Office of the Chief Communications Officer (703) 305-2281

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2017 -- USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued special procedures that give all states flexibility in providing expedited Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to families who have evacuated their homes and moved outside the State of Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA is offering all SNAP state agencies nationwide the choice of using the program’s expedited service provisions or offering evacuees two months of disaster benefits using streamlined program procedures under a special Evacuee Policy designed in response to Hurricane Harvey. These efforts ensure that people who have traveled outside Texas to safer ground as a result of the disaster get the vital nutrition they need.

“Many people have taken extraordinary measures to reach safety as a result of this historic storm, even traveling to distant states, and we’re working to make sure that paperwork and procedure don’t stand in the way of getting folks access to the food they need to feed their families,” Perdue said, emphasizing that hurricane relief is a top priority for President Trump.

The Evacuee Policy applies to anyone who during Hurricane Harvey resided in a county that received a Presidential disaster declaration for Individual Assistance, who did not receive SNAP benefits in August 2017, and who evacuated to another state that chooses to apply the policy. Eligible households will receive two months of SNAP benefits on an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

Households that received SNAP in August 2017 may use remaining benefits on their EBT card in any state.  They may also use September benefits and August replacement benefits that the State of Texas has already issued. In the coming weeks, these households may also receive supplemental benefits, Perdue said.

The special Evacuee Policy issued Friday is the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions taken to help Texans cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include a waiver to allow all disaster-affected schools to provide meals to all students at no charge and be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate through September 30. 

In addition, local disaster organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Men continue to utilize USDA Foods to serve hot meals in congregate shelters. Individuals seeking more information about this and other available aid should dial 2-1-1 or 1-(877) 541-7905. For more information about Texas SNAP, visit YourTexasBenefits.com.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service 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.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).