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Protecting Food Access in Times of Crisis

September 19, 2008


With hurricanes Ike and Gustav wracking eastern and Gulf states and damaging tornadoes hitting the Midwest, federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) are working with state and local governments to ensure that those hit hard by disaster still have access to the food they need.

FNS is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides the services that already-overburdened emergency food programs are unable to deliver in times of crisis. Relying on the federal food stamps program as a first line defense, FNS operates the Disaster Food Stamp Program, which expedites food stamp benefits to households that are made newly-eligible for benefits in the wake of disaster. FNS recently authorized the Disaster Food Stamp Program in counties across Louisiana and Texas with further temporary stipulations that allowed recipients to purchase hot food with their benefits and reimbursed existing food stamp recipients for food lost in power outages. Despite the essential work of FNS, the Disaster Food Program has suffered from administrative errors and has been subject to recent criticism in Louisiana, where an error temporarily doubled recipient benefits and left many waiting for benefits despite their eligibility.

In conjunction with emergency food stamp outreach, USDA also authorizes FNS to orchestrate mass commodity food shipments to food banks in disaster areas.

In the past several years, FNS has outlined strategic plans for response in the event of weather-related and medical disasters in areas across the country. For more information about FNS and the Disaster food stamp program, visit the USDA website.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 4, 2009 12:09 pm

    i get food stamps, and hot foods should be available in supermarkets to eat. i am sick and it helps me. years ago there was a pilot program where some restaurants excepted it. if its food , its food , i should not be penalized if i dont go to fine dining!

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