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USDA will extend SNAP food assistance to Idalia victims in Florida

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USDA will extend SNAP food assistance to Idalia victims in Florida

Sep 20, 2023 | 3:26 pm ET
By Christian Casale
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USDA will extend SNAP food assistance to Idalia victims in Florida
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Hurricane Idalia damage on the Taylor County coast, via Lynette Senter

Low-income residents in eleven Florida counties affected by Hurricane Idalia will be eligible for a new federal recovery program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.

The USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) would give people in Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwanee and Taylor counties access to SNAP benefits they normally would not qualify for. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release that temporary expansion would affect about 233,000 households.

USDA will extend SNAP food assistance to Idalia victims in Florida
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

“The D-SNAP waiver USDA approved for Florida will ensure that people participating in SNAP can get the food they need as they get back on their feet in the wake of Hurricane Idalia,” Vilsack said in a press release.

SNAP, also known as “food stamps,” is the largest federal nutrition program.

Florida will have a staggered application process for the D-SNAP program from Sept. 22 through Oct. 14, the USDA said, with additional information on how and where people can apply shared through local media.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture directed The Phoenix to the Florida Department of Children and Families, which did not respond to a request for comment.

“Before operating a D-SNAP, a state must ensure that the proper public information, staffing, and resources are in place,” the USDA said.

Other recent USDA sanctions to assist victims of Hurricane Idalia include a waiver to allow SNAP participants to purchase hot food through Oct. 1 and a mass replacement for participants in 14 affected counties to receive replacement benefits due to power outages.

Hurricane Idalia peaked as a Category 4 and made landfall on Aug. 30 on the Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm. She pounded up through northern Florida and into Georgia and the Carolinas in the ensuing days. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has estimated total insured losses due to Idalia at $188 million so far, with more than 20,000 claims reported and nearly 37 percent of claims closed.