WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2017 – Texans recovering from Hurricane Harvey could be eligible for disaster food benefits from the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through the availability of Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that households who 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 is committed to helping hurricane-stricken Texans get back on their feet,” Perdue said. “Because the need for help doesn’t end when the rain stops. In so many ways, it’s just begun. And the D-SNAP program USDA is announcing today is an important step forward, as we work through this crisis together.”
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 as they settle back home following the disaster. To be eligible for D-SNAP, a household must live in an identified disaster area, have been affected by the disaster, and meet certain D-SNAP eligibility criteria. Texas Health and Human Services Commission will announce D-SNAP dates, and locations through the local media.
D-SNAP timing varies with the circumstances of each disaster, Perdue said, but always begins after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to purchase food to prepare at home. Before operating a D-SNAP, a State must ensure that proper public information, staffing and resources are in place.
USDA has already approved issuance of supplemental SNAP benefits for current SNAP recipients, in certain affected areas, to bring their August and September benefits up to the maximum allotment for their household size, consistent with the amount D-SNAP households will receive. As D-SNAP is implemented in an impacted county, individuals in that county who are currently receiving SNAP will automatically receive a benefit supplement to bring them up to the maximum allotment for their household size. Current participants have also had a portion of their August benefits replaced since many lost food as a result of the storm.
"This is an unprecedented disaster, and we have Texas families who have lost everything," said Texas Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner Charles Smith. "Texas is moving quickly to finalize sites with our local officials and will begin announcing D-SNAP dates and locations today. We are committed to rolling out D-SNAP quickly to serve all of the impacted areas."
The D-SNAP announcement today is the latest in a battery of USDA actions taken to help Texans cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include a waiver to allow SNAP participants to buy hot foods and hot food products prepared for immediate consumption with their benefits at authorized SNAP retailers statewide 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 (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.