WASHINGTON, July 9, 2019 – Puerto Rico residents continuing to recover from 2017’s hurricanes could be eligible for increased nutrition assistance funded by Congress and provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This temporary assistance will be distributed through Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) beginning as early as August. NAP is administered by USDA and is operated by the Commonwealth’s Department of the Family.
The new grant reflects active collaboration over the last month between USDA and Puerto Rico to implement the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019, signed by the President on June 6. Since then, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) staff has been available on-site to help Puerto Rico amend its nutrition assistance plan, as required to distribute NAP funding. On July 2, Puerto Rico officials completed changes outlining how they will deliver disaster benefits and protect integrity. USDA’s approval today will launch $600 million in new benefits to help Puerto Rico residents feed their families, as the recovery continues.
“Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico are still dealing with challenges caused by the severe damage that multiple hurricanes caused to the island’s economy and infrastructure,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “Congress has provided this supplemental funding, and we are committed to working with local officials to support Puerto Rico’s recovery by providing the vital nutrition assistance families need as they rebuild and restore their communities.”
Unlike the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), NAP is a block grant with a set amount of funding annually, and the program must operate within that amount. The funding announced today will augment the assistance available through NAP, in recognition of the sustained economic disruption faced by the island. Puerto Rico plans to provide a supplemental benefit to all households that participate in NAP over the next 12 months.
The announcement is the latest in a series of USDA actions to help residents affected by disaster, which also include authorizing flexibilities in school meals, providing nutritious USDA Foods for the Disaster Household Distribution program, and authorizing flexibilities in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to ensure that this vital program remained accessible.
FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, WIC, and SNAP, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.