In a bid to support SNAP participants during ongoing challenges, Hawai‘i Department of Human Services (DHS) secures approval for an extension of the SNAP Hot Food Program waiver until December 31, 2023. This crucial extension allows beneficiaries to utilize their SNAP benefits for the purchase of hot foods and ready-to-eat products, providing relief to those facing temporary lodging and meal preparation constraints.
As we approach the holiday season, the significance of prolonging the SNAP Hot Foods waiver becomes evident. The extension aims to address the needs of individuals enduring temporary lodging situations, where access to cooking facilities may be limited. This article delves into the details of the approval process and the subsequent extensions, highlighting the impact on food stamps households in Hawaii.
What Type of Food Can I Buy with Food Stamps in Hawaii?
The initial approval came on August 16, 2023, in response to a request from the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services, prompted by the wildfires in early August. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) granted a temporary allowance for SNAP households to purchase hot foods from authorized retailers across all five counties in Hawai‘i. Initially set to expire on September 14, 2023, subsequent requests led to extensions until October 14, 2023, and then November 13, 2023, respectively.
On November 8, 2023, the DHS submitted another request for a 30-day extension, emphasizing the ongoing challenges faced by SNAP households, many of whom remain displaced or unable to secure and prepare meals. Recognizing the impact of the August wildfires, particularly in Lahaina, Maui County, FNS acknowledges the state’s efforts to aid SNAP households recovering from this unprecedented disaster.
The SNAP program in Hawai’i will accept the purchase of prepared food, i.e. hot dishes, at restaurants that accept payments with EBT cards. The hot foods waiver is applied statewide, and will not be limited only to households in certain zip codes or impacted areas.
If you need a replacement EBT SNAP benefits card on Maui, you can visit the Maui Processing Center State Building, 54 High St. No. 125 in Wailuku, or call at 1 (855) 643-1643.
Other Current Exceptions to the Hawai’I Food Stamps Program
Additionally, USDA granted Hawaii several flexibilities in the operation of the Child Nutrition Programs including:
- Non-congregate meal service: forfeits the requirements to serve Child Nutrition Program meals in a congregate setting.
- Parent and guardian meal pick-up: waives the requirement that Child Nutrition Program meals may only be served directly to children.
- Meal service times: waives the requirements setting meal time parameters for Child Nutrition Program meals.
- Service of meals at school sites during unanticipated school closures: waives the requirement that limits the operation of the Summer Food Service Program during an unanticipated school closure to non-school sites. USDA also extends the service of meals at school sites during unanticipated school closures flexibility to operate Seamless Summer Options, or SSO, for the duration of this waiver.
- Offer Versus Serve (National School Lunch Program): The obligation to provide school lunches to senior high school students using Offer Versus Serve is suspended. The USDA is also prolonging the flexibility of Offer Versus Serve to the School Summer Option (SSO) in case of an unexpected school closure throughout the academic year.
- Meal Pattern Exception: Temporarily permits school meals and afterschool snacks that do not adhere to the meal pattern requirements.