Last Friday, Hurricane Florence devastated North Carolina leaving more than 287,000 residents without power. Many residents affected by the hurricane do not have access to food, including those on SNAP benefits. Currently, there are over 57,000 households in North Carolina that receive food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief remains an ongoing effort.
On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) passed a waiver to declare that those North Carolina residents affected by Hurricane Florence can temporarily use their SNAP benefits to purchase hot and prepared food items. This waiver is an effort from the USDA to stand flexible and help meet the needs of their citizens during the Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief.
Hurricane Florence SNAP Changes
Typically SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase hot or prepared food items. However, since the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence on Friday, many residents who were evacuated from their homes do not have access to cooking equipment or have the ability to store food.
North Carolina residents receiving SNAP benefits will be permitted to use their food stamps to purchase hot and prepared foods until Oct. 31 during the Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief. The waiver addresses the inability of those evacuated SNAP recipients to prepare or store food at home.
North Carolina Disaster Food Stamps
On Sept. 16, the USDA approved a second waiver that allows SNAP recipients an extended period of time to submit claims for food lost in the disaster. Households that have been affected by Hurricane Florence now have until Oct. 15 to report any food losses. Any requested replacement benefits can be used to purchase food and makeup for items lost in the storm. If you’ve lost food in the storm and would like to apply for replacement food stamp benefits, check out our post on how to apply for Disaster Food Stamps for Hurricane Florence.
The USDA has stated that they are ready to consider approving additional waivers that may be needed in order to help those SNAP households that have lost food due to the disaster. Additional waivers that are being considered by the USDA simplify the application process for affected households.
These changes made by the USDA are allowed under the disaster declaration for the state. It’s important to note that it may take up to 36 hours for these changes to go into effect. Due to a large number of power outages that remain statewide, some SNAP retailers may only accept cash at this time.
USDA updates South Carolina SNAP
On Monday at 5 p.m., the USDA also announced this temporary change for those South Carolina residents on food stamps that were affected by Hurricane Florence.
For updates regarding the Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief and recovery, stay tuned to our blog.