In the aftermath of the powerful Hurricane Idalia, which struck Florida’s 11 counties (Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwanee, and Taylor) on August 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced that low-income residents will be able to claim the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), an emergency version of the food stamps set to avoid food insecurity in the impacted areas.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that approximately 233,000 households, which may not typically qualify for assistance under the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) guidelines, now have the opportunity to access D-SNAP aid. To be eligible, residents must meet specific criteria, including income limits imposed due to the disaster and having qualifying expenses directly related to Hurricane Idalia. Let’s take a closer look at all you have to know.
D-SNAP in Florida: How to Claim the Cash When You Need It Most
“The D-SNAP waiver USDA approved for Florida will ensure that people participating in SNAP can get the food they need as they get back on their feet in the wake of Hurricane Idalia,” Vilsack said in a statement dated on September 20.
To qualify for D-SNAP assistance, applicants must reside within the 11 affected counties (mentioned above), and meet disaster-specific income limits, taking into account the financial impact of the hurricane on their household. Furthermore, the recipient household must have incurred qualifying disaster-related expenses, such as home repairs, medical bills, and temporary shelter costs.
The time it takes for the D-SNAP money to be approved and delivered to each family varies in each particular case, and depending on the nature of each disaster. It is initiated only after the commercial food distribution channels have been restored, allowing affected families to once again purchase and prepare food at home.
It’s worth to consider that current recipients of the regular SNAP program are not eligible for D-SNAP benefits. However, the USDA has granted approval for Florida to automatically provide supplementary SNAP benefits to existing SNAP households residing in the 11 designated disaster-affected areas.
Florida’s application for D-SNAP has been approved!
D-SNAP provides food assistance for individuals & families impacted by Hurricane Idalia who are not receiving food assistance benefits through regular SNAP.
For more information, visit https://t.co/RDauQaOZHl pic.twitter.com/tTuHRuwei2
— Florida Department of Children and Families (@MyFLFamilies) September 19, 2023
Temporary Waivers for the D-SNAP Disbursement in All the Florida Counties
- A waiver was granted to permit SNAP beneficiaries to use their benefits for the purchase of hot foods and readily consumable hot food items at approved SNAP vendors across the entire state until October 1, 2023.
- Additionally, a waiver has been granted to exempt individuals from the 10-day reporting requirement for food bought using SNAP benefits that became unusable due to power outages in the following counties: Dixie, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties. This waiver is effective until September 19, 2023.
- Non-congregate meal service: waives the prerequisite to serve Child Nutrition Program meals in a congregate setting.
- Parent and guardian meal pick-up: Child Nutrition Program meals may temporaryly be served not directly to children, but adults could pick up their food. Also, the meal times requirements were loosened up.
- Service of meals at school sites during unanticipated school closures: The stipulation restricting the operation of the Summer Food Service Program solely to non-school locations in the event of an unforeseen school closure is hereby lifted. Additionally, the USDA is extending the flexibility to provide meals at school premises during unanticipated school closures, permitting the operation of Seamless Summer Options (SSO) throughout the duration of this waiver.
- Offer Versus Serve: waives the requirement to serve school lunches with National School Lunch Program to students using Offer Versus Serve. USDA also extends the Offer Versus Serve flexibility to SSO for the duration of this waiver, when there is an unanticipated school closure during the school year.
- Meal Pattern Exception: temporarily allows school meals and afterschool snacks that do not meet the meal pattern requirements.