Families in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Ida will soon be able to receive food packages containing USDA Foods – nutritious, high-quality foods 100% grown and produced on farms in the U.S. USDA approved the short-term measure to address an immediate need for food until a longer-term solution is ready. Earlier this week, USDA also approved a waiver to allow participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase hot foods with their benefits through September 28.
“One of USDA’s most important roles is to help Americans through difficult times, and none are so difficult as disasters like Hurricane Ida that threaten lives and destroy communities, along with the food systems they depend on to survive,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I want everyone to rest assured that we are working with our state, local and federal partners to get food and desperately needed nutrition assistance to them when they need it most – and we will be there to assist in any way we can until the recovery is complete.”
The Disaster Household Distribution program is approved to start on September 1, 2021. Louisiana officials will work directly with their partners and local food banks to issue up to 800,000 food boxes to individuals in the affected areas.
Food banks will use their current network of food pantries to distribute foods in areas affected by Hurricane Ida. Each of the packages will contain approximately 25 pounds of USDA Foods, including shelf-stable items like canned goods, fruit, protein items and other staples.
The Disaster Household Distribution program helps states and tribal nations after a disaster disrupts normal food supply channels. When disasters damage or destroy grocery stores, for example, states can redirect stored supplies of USDA Foods from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) toward emergencies. The USDA can also ship USDA Foods from other states and replace the redirected USDA Foods so that the state can continue to serve USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program participants.
In addition, local disaster organizations continue to rely on USDA Foods to serve hot meals in congregate shelters. For more information on these programs in Louisiana, visit the State of Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry website on food distribution.
FNS continues to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with requesting states and local authorities to provide emergency nutrition assistance and other nutrition program flexibilities to assist people in need.
What DHS and FEMA are Doing: www.fema.gov/hurricane-ida
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.