In the wake of California’s wildfires, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants will be allowed to buy hot foods with their benefits through Dec. 17 in 14 counties, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday.
“Thousands of California residents are trying to piece their lives back together even as these wildfires continue blazing,” said Brandon Lipps, acting deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “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: Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Plumas, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba.
Under normal circumstances, participants are not allowed to use their benefits to buy foods that are sold hot at authorized SNAP retailers, Lipps said. The waiver addresses the needs of SNAP households affected by the disaster that are unable to prepare food at home.
However, 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.
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the Americans. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs 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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