Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
USDA Announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: USDA is accepting applications now through August 28, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Q: If my financial situation has changed due to the coronavirus, could I be eligible for SNAP?
Q: What is USDA doing to promote social distancing in SNAP?
A: The Food and Nutrition Service has allowed SNAP flexibilities to reduce the need for face-to-face contact. For example, USDA is allowing states to conduct SNAP quality control interviews by telephone instead of in person. USDA has also offered states an optional 45-day extension on certain quality control case reviews.
Q: Can SNAP participants order groceries online?
A: The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in several states, with more being added as interested states' plans are approved. To learn more about the pilot, including participating states and retailers, please visit: www.fns.usda.gov/snap/online-purchasing-pilot.
Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is receiving interest to expand the SNAP online pilot program, the responsibility is on state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers who wish to participate. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states who wish to enter the online pilot which is provided as an attachment to this letter. States and their respective entities are already facing capacity issues with the COVID-19 response, and FNS continues to provide significant technical assistance to interested states to ensure that plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted. If not done properly and judiciously, there is a risk to the state’s entire benefit system. In each state, its EBT processor and retailers present their own mix of challenges. So, FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.
FNS will continue to work with interested states in advancing their participation in this pilot. Until states are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends states utilize other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pick-up is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.
During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. USDA intends to use available program flexibilities and contingencies to continue to serve our program participants. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit our website at www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.
Q: What happens to SNAP recipients who can’t meet the work requirements due to the coronavirus outbreak?
A: Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, USDA has suspended the work requirements (PDF, 359 KB) for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) throughout the national emergency. Therefore, the time limit does not apply, and these individuals can continue to receive SNAP benefits.
Q: How can I protect myself from SNAP fraud during the pandemic?
A: The Food and Nutrition Service is aware of some fraud scams trying to take advantage of the current emergency to obtain SANP recipients’ confidential information, such as a social security number, bank information, or a participant’s SNAP EBT card number. If you are unsure if a request for information is legitimate, contact your local SNAP office. To stay on top of potential scams, please visit USDA’s SNAP scam alert webpage at www.fns.usda.gov/snap/scam-alerts.
Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Q: What happens if grocery stores are out of the specific food items WIC participants are allowed to purchase due to the COVID-19 situation?
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, is designed to supplement the diets of participants to address certain nutritional needs. As a result, WIC purchases must be of foods approved by their state. However, states have the flexibility to modify their WIC-approved foods lists at any time to include any foods that meet federal standards. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, states can request additional food package flexibility from USDA. USDA has been expeditiously approving state requests to allow for additional substitution options if availability of certain WIC-prescribed foods is limited. Please visit our website for more information on approved waivers for food package substitutions: www.fns.usda.gov/wic/food-package-substitution-waiver.
Q: What is USDA doing to promote social distancing in WIC?
A: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, allows USDA to minimize face-to-face interaction in WIC by reducing required visits to the clinic through a variety of waivers provided to state agencies and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) upon request. Under the Act, states must request approval from the Food and Nutrition Service to temporarily waive the in-person requirements for enrolling/reenrolling for WIC and picking up WIC benefits. The Act also allows states to defer certain medical tests used to determine nutritional risk. USDA has been expeditiously approving these state requests.
Q: What is household distribution, and can it help those impacted by COVID-19?
A: Disaster Household Distribution is a program designed to provide food directly to households in targeted areas to meet specific needs when traditional channels of food are unavailable and not being replenished on a regular basis, such as following a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster. Under a Presidential Declaration of a National Emergency, as is currently in effect for the U.S., FNS may approve state and Tribal Nation requests for Disaster Household Distribution (DHD). DHD provides boxes of USDA Foods to households in need using existing inventories of USDA-purchased foods. USDA foods to food banks are primarily intended for the use in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which serves low-income people ages 60 and over.
When disasters are localized, USDA is able to move food capacity around to accommodate local need. As the current need is widespread, states must balance the use of inventories directed through Disaster Household Distribution to those newly in need, while also continuing to implement normal federal distribution program operations. As state and Indian Tribal Organization plans for Disaster Household Distribution are approved, they will be posted on the Disaster Household Distribution page.
Q: What other food distribution programs are operating during the current situation?
A: FNS continues to operate its normal food distribution programs including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which makes USDA Foods available to state distribution agencies like food banks; the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which serves low-income people ages 60 and over; and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
Q: How is the Food and Nutrition Service helping food banks during this public health emergency?
A: Food banks are private, non-profit entities who work in their local communities to gather donations and distribute foods to those in need who may not be accessing other assistance programs. FNS partners with food banks and other state distributing agencies by providing USDA foods through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). USDA has provided states broad discretion to set eligibility limits for TEFAP and ensured that states can take limited eligibility information such as name, address, and self-reported income via telephone, text or other electronic means, or by receiving a 1-page affidavit in a dropbox. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020 provided USDA an additional $400 million for TEFAP, up to $100 million of which can be used to help agencies cover costs associated with distributing a higher volume of food due to COVID-19. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020 provided an additional $450 million for TEFAP. When a localized need is identified, such as disrupted food supply, food banks should check with their state agency regarding a Disaster Household Distribution program.
Q: How can food banks promote social distancing?
A: Food banks are private, non-profit entities who have broad discretion over their own activities. FNS partners with food banks and other state distributing agencies by providing USDA foods through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). USDA has provided states broad discretion to set eligibility limits for TEFAP and ensured that states can take limited eligibility information such as name, address, and self-reported income via telephone, text or other electronic means, or by receiving a 1-page affidavit in a dropbox. In addition, many food banks are using a drive-through model in which recipients receive a box of foods that is placed directly in their vehicle by staff or volunteers.