WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2017 – Families affected by Hurricane Harvey will soon be able to receive food packages containing nutritious, high-quality foods--100 percent grown and produced on farms in the U.S.--known as USDA Foods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Texas Department of Agriculture announced today.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the food boxes families will receive are a short-term measure designed to address an immediate need for food until a longer-term solution is ready to be put in place.
“People in Texas are hurting,” Perdue said. “And we at USDA are working hard with the State of Texas and our private sector partners to make sure that households displaced in the aftermath of this epic storm get the food they need.”
The Disaster Household Distribution program is approved to start on Sept. 8. The Texas Department of Agriculture will work directly with its partners, the Feeding Texas and local food banks, to issue food boxes to participants located in presidentially declared disaster areas.
“Texas has a true friend in the USDA and Secretary Perdue,” Commissioner Miller said. “In my conversations with him during this crisis he has assured me that Texas will have whatever it needs to recover and he’s made it happen. I can’t thank him enough.”
The food banks will utilize their current network of pantries to distribute foods in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Each of the packages will contain 25-30 pounds of USDA Foods and will be based on existing shelf-stable items in identified food banks.
Programs such as the Disaster Household Distribution are a good option for states when normal commercial food supply channels such as grocery stores have been damaged or destroyed. Each state has a supply of USDA Foods on hand for programs such as the National School Lunch Program that can be used during emergencies. The USDA can also arrange for food to be shipped from other states to meet increased needs during a disaster. The USDA will replace the foods used for the Disaster Household Distribution so that the state continues to have USDA foods available for those in need.
The food packages announced today are 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 (for callers from Texas) 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.
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