The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a temporary waiver that will allow participants in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the U.S. Virgin Islands to buy hot foods with their benefits through Nov. 13.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue emphasized the importance of the waiver, noting that many USVI residents evacuated to shelters, cannot store food and lack access to cooking facilities.
“The waiver USDA approved for the USVI will help ensure that people participating in SNAP can get the food they need,” Perdue said. “Process and paperwork should take a back seat in challenging times like the folks in the Virgin Islands are experiencing in the aftermath of this devastating storm.”
Under normal circumstances, Perdue explained, hot foods and hot foods ready for immediate consumption cannot be bought using SNAP benefits. SNAP-authorized retailers were notified Tuesday of the waiver.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is ready to consider additional waivers that may be needed to help program participants who have lost food due to the disaster and to simplify the application process for affected households, upon request from the USVI Department of Human Services, he said.