USDA Approves SNAP Hot Foods Purchases in 14 California Counties Hit by Wildfires

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2018– In response to devastating wildfires in California, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 14 counties to buy hot foods with their benefits through Dec. 17, 2018.

“Thousands of California residents are trying to piece their lives back together even as these wildfires continue blazing,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps.  “This waiver will allow residents more flexibility to use in feeding their families as they get back on their feet.”

Under this temporary policy, hot food purchases are allowed in the following California counties: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Plumas, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Ventura, and Yuba.

Under normal circumstances participants are not allowed to use their benefits to buy foods that are sold hot at authorized SNAP retailers.  The waiver addresses the needs of SNAP households affected by the disaster that are unable to prepare food at home. SNAP authorized retailers may need 24-36 hours to be ready to accept SNAP benefits for hot foods due to programming changes that may be required at their stores.

USDA has also approved a request from the state to provide mass replacement of SNAP benefits for residents who experienced food losses in certain portions of Butte and Plumas counties. These residents suffered food losses resulting from power outages in the area.

This is one of many tools that USDA has available to aid states as they recover from disasters. Today’s announcement is the latest of multiple actions taken to help California residents cope with the effects of recent wildfires.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people.  The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

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