ATLANTA – Food stamp recipients in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Michael can now temporarily use their benefits to purchase prepared or “hot foods” from USDA approved retailers, Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Interim Director Tom Rawlings announced Monday.

Georgia officials announced a partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to waive certain rules for the food stamp program and provide recipients in storm-affected areas with greater flexibility in feeding their families.

The move allows low-income Georgians who continue to be plagued by power outages to purchase food items they typically would not be able to buy with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

SNAP recipients are typically prohibited from purchasing prepared or hot food.  Instead, they are required buy food that they must cook themselves.

The waiver is in place for 23 South Georgia counties hardest hit by the storm.

DFCS officials, who toured areas most affected by the storm last week, sought the waiver after seeing first-hand how difficult it is for Georgians in the affected area—especially those who are still displaced or remain without power—to prepare their own meals.

“Allowing the purchase of hot foods will hopefully provide critical relief to SNAP households most adversely affected by the Hurricane Michael disaster,” DFCS Interim Director, Tom Rawlings said. “For those who have experienced prolonged power outages or who have been displaced from their homes, we want to support them by making access to healthy meals easier.”

The waiver allowing recipients to purchase prepared foods is the third such action Georgia DFCS has taken to provide relief to low-income families affected by the storm.

On Oct. 17, Georgia released the October allotment of food stamp benefits early to aid families most affected by the storm in feeding their families. And, late last week, the Division extended the deadline for families to report food lost in power outages to Oct. 31; recipients typically only have 10 days to report such losses.

The prepared food waiver is in effect until Nov. 17 and covers recipients who live in the following counties:

  • Baker
  • Ben Hill
  • Brooks
  • Calhoun
  • Clay
  • Cook
  • Crisp
  • Decatur
  • Dougherty
  • Early
  • Grady
  • Lee
  • Miller
  • Mitchell
  • Randolph
  • Sumter
  • Seminole
  • Terrell
  • Thomas
  • Tift
  • Turner
  • Webster
  • Worth

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