Disasters are especially challenging to handle in the midst of COVID-19. Luckily, Federal Nutrition Programs already have resources in place to address the unique needs of this time. Explore below to learn more about about specific state guidance for current disasters and disaster response options from the Federal Nutrition Programs.
Current Disaster Relief
- General GuidanceOn October 8 as Hurricane Delta was headed towards the Gulf Coast, USDA put out a reminder about potential relief available to assist victims with nutrition needs during recovery.
- AlabamaIn the wake of last fall’s Hurricane Zeta, on January 4, USDA approved Alabama’s request to operate D-SNAP in 7 counties.
A new online portal allows Alabama households hard but by Hurricane Sally to preregister for federal D-SNAP benefits.
On September 30, USDA authorized Alabama to operate D-SNAP in three counties (Baldwin, Escambia, and Mobile) that were hard hit by Hurricane Sally. D-SNAP will be conducted in two counties from October 5 through October 9, and in Mobile County for five week days starting on October 13.
On September 30, USDA announced the approval of D-SNAP for disaster areas affected by Hurricane Sally.
On September 24, USDA approved Alabama’s request to issue automatic mass partial SNAP replacement benefits to SNAP households in three counties hard hit by Hurricane Sally.
- CaliforniaOn November 25, in the wake of wildfires, USDA approved California’s request for an extension of time for SNAP households in Mono County to seek replacement benefits.
On November 16, USDA approved California’s request to issue automatic mass SNAP replacement benefits hard hit by October 14 power outages.
On October 26, USDA approved a temporary waiver to allow CalFresh (SNAP) benefits to purchase hot prepared foods in 25 counties impacted by wildfires.
On October 6, USDA approved California’s request to issue automatic mass partial replacement benefits to CalFresh households in 16 zip codes in 10 counties hard hit by wildfires and power outage; USDA also extended to October 26, 2020, the time for CalFresh households to seek replacement benefits due to food loss.
On September 29, USDA approved California’s request to operate Disaster CalFresh in nine counties impacted by wildfires and, in light of COVID-19, to do so using several “novel procedures” to supplement onsite application intake with remote methods. Specifically, prior to the application period, California will operate a pre-registration by phone, and then during the application period, the state will conduct interviews by telephone using a “call out” model. This is distinguished from the “call in” model used in states (Florida and Louisiana) that have online D-SNAP preregistration systems. Application periods for Disaster CalFresh will run weekdays from October 14 through 22 in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties and weekdays from October 21 through October 29 in Butte County.
On September 29 USDA approved D-SNAP for residents in California counties hard hit by wildfires.
On September 24 USDA approved California’s request to allow SNAP participants in six counties impacted by wildfires to purchase hot prepared foods with their SNAP benefits.
On Sept. 21 2020, USDA approved California’s request to issue mass SNAP benefit replacements to households in 83 zip codes impacted by wildfires and power outages.
On Sept. 3, 2020, FNS approved California’s request to issue SNAP mass replacements to impacted households. This waiver approval allows households to receive replacement of 50 percent of August benefits for 23 zip codes in 12 counties as a result of wildfires and power outages.
- ConnecticutAutomatic mass SNAP benefit replacements (Tropical Storm Isiais)
- IowaIn the wake of severe storms last August, on January 5, USDA approved Iowa’s request to expand D-SNAP to Clinton county and be operational from January 25 through January 29.
USDA has approved D-SNAP for 10 additional counties hit hard by the recent Derecho and the application process will roll there in waves during the weeks of September 15 and 22. One county had already gotten D-SNAP approval in August.
- LouisianaOn January 21, USDA approved Louisiana’s request to expand D-SNAP to more parishes had hit by Hurricane Delta in fall 2020.
In the wake of Hurricane Zeta, Louisiana and the City of New Orleans are conducting damage assessments and prepare to request authority to operate Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) for which residents can preregister now.
On November 2, USDA approved Louisiana’s request to issue automatic mass SNAP replacement benefits to SNAP participants hard hit by Hurricane Zeta.
On October 21, FNS approved Louisiana’s request to issue automatic mass SNAP benefit replacements to SNAP households hard hit by Hurricane Delta.
On October 11, USDA approved Louisiana’s amended request to operate a Disaster Household Distribution (DHD) program in parishes hard hit by Hurricane Delta.
On September 30, in the wake of Hurricane Laura, USDA extended the hot prepared foods waiver through October 31 for Louisiana SNAP households.
On September 11 USDA approved another 2 parishes for Disaster SNAP (D-DNAP) aid to households hard hit by Hurricane Laura, bringing to 18 the total number of parishes in which D-SNAP will be offered.
USDA approves automatic mass replacement benefits for SNAP households hard hit by Laura and D-SNAP for others
Schedule and instructions for Hurricane Laura households to apply for D-SNAP in Louisiana.
In the wake of Hurricane Laura USDA has authorize Louisiana to operate Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) “for 16 parishes in two phases – one beginning this week and the other next week. Operations will be entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Louisiana will share information about D-SNAP application dates and locations through local media.”
Louisiana SNAP benefits for September were issued early and also can be used to purchase hot prepared foods as Hurricane Laura recovery efforts continue. Louisiana is preparing a request for authority to get Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits to residents not already participating in SNAP and is already accepting pre registrations for D-SNAP.
- MassachusettsAutomatic mass SNAP benefit replacements (Tropical Storm Isiais)
- MississippiOn November 5, USDA approved Mississippi’s request to extend the time for SNAP households in 13 counties hit hard by Hurricane Zeta to seek replacement SNAP benefits.
- New YorkReplacing SNAP benefits (Tropical Storm Isiais)
- North CarolinaOn August 31, USDA granted NC authority to issue automatic mass SNAP replacement benefits to SNAP households in 11 North Carolina counties hard hit by Tropical Storm Isiais.
- OregonOn November 23, 2020, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service approved SNAP and D-SNAP recipients in 23 Oregon counties, including Douglas, to purchase hot or prepared foods from authorized SNAP retailers until the end of the year.
On October 17, 2020, pre-registration for D-SNAP in Oregon opened and will remain open through October 22, 2020. In light of COVID-19, the applications will be completed online from October 23 through October 28.
On October 7, USDA approved an extension of times for Oregon SNAP households impacted by wildfires to request replacement SNAP benefits.
On September 29, USDA authorized Oregon to operate on Disaster Household Distributions (DHD) program in four counties hard hit by wildfires and widespread power outages. The initiative is aimed at helping supplement food banks’ supplies.
On September 23, USDA approved Oregon’s request to allow SNAP participants impacted by wildfires an extension of time to request SNAP replacement benefits.
- TexasIn the wake of Hurricane Laura, USDA has granted Texas authority to use USDA foods from TEFAP for a disaster food distribution in Orange County through September 22 “or until such time as D-SNAP is implemented.”
Automatic mass SNAP benefit replacements (Hurricane Hannah)
There are several ways to leverage SNAP resources to aid in disaster recovery.
- Disaster declarations
- Replacement benefits
- D-SNAP flexibilities
- Hot prepared food waivers
- Case processing flexibilities
- Restaurant Meals (Letter from FRAC and restaurant association partners)