In the wake of Hurricane Michael, USDA has approved a temporary waiver that allows SNAP participants in Florida to use their benefits to buy hot foods through the end of October. Acting Deputy Undersecretary Brandon Lipps noted that many Florida residents evacuated to shelters cannot store food and are lacking access to cooking facilities as a result. “In times of disaster, it’s critical for USDA to make it as easy as possible for people in need to make use of their benefits, so no one affected by this disaster goes hungry,” Lipps said. “Hurricane Michael caused historic damage and displaced thousands of Floridians. This waiver provides them with immediate help.” Under normal circumstances, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase hot foods. The waiver addresses the inability of those SNAP participants affected by the disaster to prepare food at home. USDA says 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.

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