Louisiana participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can use their benefits to purchase “hot” or prepared foods from authorized SNAP retailers during the month of September, following waiver approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
Normally, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase “hot food products prepared for immediate consumption.” Waiving that restriction is vital in the immediate aftermath of a storm such as Hurricane Laura, where many residents are displaced and cannot access a kitchen to prepare their meals.
The waiver, granted Thursday and lasting through Oct. 1, will allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits to buy prepared foods at any retailer that accepts SNAP EBT cards, whether in Louisiana or in another state. Restaurant purchases are still prohibited.
The same waiver would apply to Disaster SNAP (DSNAP) benefits, if and when that program comes online in the coming days. More information about the “hot foods” waiver can be found at http://www.dcfs.la.gov/hotfoods.
All current SNAP recipients received their September benefits on Sept. 1, rather than their regular issuance date between the 1st and 14th of the month. SNAP recipients not already receiving the maximum amount for their household size will also receive a COVID-related emergency allotment on Sept. 18, to bring their household up to the maximum for the month.
SNAP recipients who lost food purchased with their SNAP benefits due to a power outage of 24 consecutive hours or more may also be eligible for replacement benefits. Recipients do not need to take any action on this at this time.
DCFS has applied for a waiver from FNS to provide for automatic issuance of 50% replacement benefits to SNAP recipients in 26 parishes due to widespread power outages. For any parishes not approved for that waiver, DCFS also applied for a waiver to extend the deadline for reporting food losses from 10 days to 30 days. More information about SNAP benefits related to Hurricane Laura can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/SNAPLaura.