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Are You Ready? Do You Know How USDA's Nutrition Assistance Programs can Play a Vital Role in Helping Those Most in Need Following a Disaster?

Posted by Cora Russell, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
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FNS’ initial response includes providing USDA Foods to disaster relief organizations. This include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products including fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains.

Twice a year, as part of America’s PrepareAthon!, USDA works closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as with other Federal, state and local partners to promote emergency preparedness.  When disasters strike, it’s not only important for you and your family to be prepared, it’s also critical that your community be prepared.  USDA supports local communities by providing access to healthy meals in emergency situations.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) ensures people have access to nutritious food when they find themselves suddenly in need of assistance following a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster emergency.  Oftentimes after a disaster, retail food stores are closed making it impossible for families to get the food they need.  Even after stores reopen, disaster survivors often still are recovering financially which makes buying food difficult.  FNS programs are there to help in those circumstances.

FNS’ initial response includes providing USDA Foods to disaster relief organizations such as, Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army. USDA Foods include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products which include fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains. FNS works with states to determine the amount and type of food needed and then makes arrangements to get the food to the disaster relief organizations. Once the food is delivered, the states make meals available at shelters and other large-scale feeding sites, or in some cases, deliver food packages to households.

Even after retail food stores are re-opened and operating, if disaster survivors still need nutrition assistance, FNS can authorize states to provide benefits through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) to quickly offer short-term food assistance to families. D-SNAP provides a full month’s benefit to households affected by a disaster who may not normally qualify for or participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It also can provide supplemental SNAP benefits to households already participating in the program.

The FNS response efforts can go beyond these two programs as well. FNS’ other nutrition assistance programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Child Nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, have flexibilities to support continuation of benefits to participants in disaster situations.

FNS currently is providing food assistance through D-SNAP for survivors of the recent floods in Louisiana in 30 parishes.  In 2015, FNS also provided assistance to people who were affected by wildfires in California, winter storms in the northeast, typhoons in the Federated States of Micronesia and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as the floods in South Carolina. In Fiscal Year 2015, FNS responded to 12 different major disasters and provided approximately $9.8 million in food assistance.

Thanks to the readiness and relief efforts marshalled by federal and state agencies, Indian Tribal organizations, non-governmental and faith-based organizations, corporations, and local partners, USDA is able to lift up communities and help them emerge stronger following disasters. USDA is proud to play a crucial role in those efforts.

Remember, if you are in need of food for your family in the midst of a disaster; contact the disaster relief organization in your area to determine which sites are providing children or families with free meals.  For more information about disaster nutrition assistance in your community, contact your local Red Cross.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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May 19, 2017

I have 2 small children I missed my snap phone interview how or where do I apply for immediate food assistance.

Marina Ortega
Sep 09, 2017

Im a single parent of 3 fema put me in a hotel need help food an cash assit please help i do habe a child that is add an adhd
Please help i dont recieve snap but ribht now i can use the help

Lane Ashcraft
Sep 12, 2017

Duval County in Florida... been without power for days now, How can I apply for food replacement? Please! I don't want to miss the window, but cant find the form!

Tina West
Sep 13, 2017

Is Lake County Fl located in Central Florida and in the direct path of Irma eligible?

Sep 13, 2017

How do i apply for the D-snap food stamps all my food spoiled can you please help me

Sep 13, 2017

Before the storm started, my family who depend on a pay check had little money that we had to spend in water mostly and some can food . At this point we ha e not eaten a hot meat and we do not have money to buy food because I have received my next pay check. My wife work in a school hourly, and if they are not working now she won't receive any check as well. We need food, electricity, we have 3 kids stress because they are sleeping for 4 night consecutive without AC,but most important we need food.

Sep 14, 2017

I'm on disability & barely get enough to pay my housing costs . I lost all my food because of the power being off for days . I get snap but not enough to feed me for the month & now lost all the food & supplies I had . Don't know whAt to do or how I'm going to be able to eat .

Jennifer Baquie
Sep 14, 2017

We have been without power for almost 5 days. All of our food is ruined now. How can I apply for d-snap? The links have me going in circles. I have 2 children and no help. Please tell me how to apply.

Sep 14, 2017

lost all my food because I had no power

Robert Harvey
Sep 14, 2017

I need some food I have no money to put in my refrigerator I'm going hungry

Sep 14, 2017

I live at Miami Florida I need help with food

Sep 14, 2017

How do I apply for SNAP disaster due to power outage in Florida

Sep 15, 2017

Hi, I need help with some food for me and my 9 year old daughter, our little food that we had spoiled because of my power outage from hurricane Irma and I don't get snap and have very little money to keep the bills paid! Thanks in advance, may God bless you!

Sep 15, 2017

Hi, I need help with some food for me and my 9 year old daughter, our little food that we had spoiled because of my power outage from hurricane Irma and I don't get snap and have very little money to keep the bills paid! Thanks in advance, may God bless you! You can email me with a response.

Sep 15, 2017

I am still without power n everything in my home have went can I get help

Laverna Crawford
Sep 15, 2017

I'm 54 yrs old and disabled i get foodstamps on the 7th every month, due to hurricane irma the food i bought is no good because of power outage i have my 8yr old grandson with me and no food i also have type 2 diabetes someone please help

Ashley Ingram
Sep 15, 2017

How can I apply for D Snap Benefits? I lost all my food due to spoilage...Can you please be of any assistance to me and my family?

Gwenn Stockton
Sep 15, 2017

How & where do I apply for D-SNAP assistance due to spoiled food during power outage from 9/10 - 9/13/17

Thank you

Earnestine Matthews
Sep 15, 2017

I really need help with food lost all my food cause of the power out.

Jamie sisco
Sep 17, 2017

I have two small children I had got my food stamps and bought a whole bunch of canned goods and water and juice for my kids we lost electricity so some of the food in the freezer and refrigerator went bad now I have no more food stamps to buy food to eat now

Sep 17, 2017


Kimber White
Sep 17, 2017

I am a single mom of 4-Where do you apply for these food assistance benefits? We have been out of power for over a week now and had to throw over $300.00 worth of groceries away-I am now using my dwindling stash of bill money to buy groceries on a daily basis.Thank you

Linda guidroz
Sep 18, 2017

I am needing food assistance due to hurricane Irma. No power 8 days lost all refrigerated and frozen food. I'm on assistance but only receive 16.00 a month which is ridiculous. I can't survive on that. Please advise...

Cindia Cannon
Sep 18, 2017

During hurricane Irma My power was out for four or five days. i evacuated .I had to rent a car. When I returned all the food in my refrigerator and freezer had ruined. i only receive about 50.00 a month in food stamps. But I lost much more than that. Alsooo rain came through my bedroom window and flooded the floor, rotting it. I did apply for fema. And trees fell everywhere. On my driveway and accross my walkway to my home. And landed on my arbor. I am disabled and need help to move them. Please call.Thank you. Cindia Cannon

Jane A Pulice
Sep 18, 2017

I need help applying.

Lisa Mardis
Aug 01, 2018

I had a flood in my apartment due to the pipes bursting and water went into the electrical sockets. It short circuited the fridge and I lost my SNAP food. Can I ask for replacement SNAP Food?