WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2017 – Floridians struggling with the after effects of Hurricane Irma could be eligible for help buying food through USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that households who may not normally be eligible under regular SNAP rules may qualify for D-SNAP -- if their income is under the disaster limits and they have qualifying disaster-related expenses.

“The D-SNAP program USDA is announcing today is an important step forward,” Perdue said. “Other food assistance is already underway, but D-SNAP will provide the continued support our neighbors in Florida need, as they get back on their feet after this epic storm. We’re with you, Florida -- all the way.”

D-SNAP eligible households in the affected areas will receive two months of benefits, equivalent to the maximum amount of benefits normally issued to a SNAP household of their size, to meet their food needs as they settle back home following the disaster. To be eligible for D-SNAP, a household must have lived or worked in an identified disaster area on September 5 (when mandatory evacuation orders began), have been affected by the disaster, and meet certain D-SNAP eligibility criteria.

Although each disaster situation is unique, D-SNAP is most appropriate in the recovery phase after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to purchase and prepare food at home. Before operating a D-SNAP, a State must ensure that proper public information, staffing and resources are in place.

“We are working around the clock to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma damage,” said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll. “We will continue to stand side-by-side with those who need us as they get back on their feet. We encourage those in need of food assistance to pre-register through the website so we can quickly serve those in need.”

The D-SNAP announcement today is the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions to help Florida cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include the early release of September benefits to all current SNAP participants prior to the storm’s impact, a waiver to allow SNAP participants to buy hot foods and hot food products with their benefits at authorized SNAP retailers statewide through September 30, and mass replacement of 40 percent of household SNAP benefits to current participants in 52 counties. USDA’s actions extend beyond SNAP as well. For example, children attending hurricane-affected schools will be served free school meals through the National School Lunch Program through October 20.

Details on Florida’s D-SNAP program, also known as Food for Florida, will be available at the Food for Florida website. D-SNAP sites will be posted on the website as they become available.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (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, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children , and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.

Click here for a list of site locations, dates and addresses for the Food For Florida program.

Monday, 25 September 2017 17:20

Healthy Food Financing Initiative

FGA's partners at the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services has contracted with a local organization to help fund projects that support healthy food initiatives in Florida. Florida Community Loan Fund is a statewide community development financial institution with more than 20 years of experience providing capital and expertise to help projects succeed in low-income communities and are the contracted entity administering the funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. FCLF financing can offer highly flexible loan terms for a broad range of projects that create high social impact. Their lending generally supports:

  • Economic Development: Food Access, Technology Hubs, Business Incubators, Catalytic Redevelopment Projects
  • Community Facilities: Homeless & Special Needs, Community Healthcare, Charter Schools and other Education & Youth
  • Housing: Affordable, Supportive, Single & Multifamily, New & Preservation

To help address health concerns in Florida, Florida Community Loan Fund has developed a Food Access Financing Program to provide flexible financing for projects that provide greater access to fresh, healthy foods in low-income, underserved, food insecure communities. This financing is used to address food insecurity predominantly in USDA designated food deserts. To see if your project is located in a food desert, click here.

FCLF’s Food Access Financing Program has the capacity to use a variety of federal and state sources of capital, including New Markets Tax Credits, to fund projects that qualify for healthy food financing guidelines. Examples of FCLF-financed food access projects include:

  • Fresh Ministries, providing aquaponics and job training in Jacksonville
  • Hitchcock’s Market, a full service grocery store in a rural Florida community
  • Treasure Coast Food Bank, processing local farm produce for use in local schools and food banks
  • Evans Center, which will house both a fresh foods market and a healthcare facility in a single building in low-income area of Brevard County (loan under commitment; not yet finalized)

To learn more about FCLF Food Access Financing, click here.

Click here to access a fact sheet on FCLF Food Access Financing.
Click here to access a fact sheet on the State of Florida Healthy Food Financing Initiative (FL-HFFI), which may be able to offer enhanced financing that could fit your project.
Click here to access information on FCLF’s New Markets Tax Credit Program and click here for a fact sheet overview of FCLF NMTC projects.

To learn more about how FCLF can help your project succeed, visit their website www.fclf.org, call them at 407.246.0846 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CLICK HERE FOR FLIER

According to a new report from global research and advisory firm IHL Group, U.S. retailers are opening 4,080 more stores in 2017 than they’re closing and plan to open an additional 5,500 next year. The report, “Debunking the Retail Apocalypse,” identified grocery retailers as among the three fastest-growing core retail segments, with 674 stores expected to open.

The other two fastest-growing core retail segments, the report found, were mass merchandisers such as off-price retailers and dollar stores, with 1,905 stores expected to open, and convenience stores, with 1,700 stores.

IHL’s research reviewed 1,800-plus retail chains with more than 50 U.S. stores in 10 retail vertical segments. The firm discovered that for every chain with a net closing of stores, 2.7 companies showed a net increase in store locations for 2017.

“The negative narrative that has been out there about the death of retail is patently false,” asserted Greg Buzek, president of Franklin, Tenn.-based IHL. “The so-called ‘retail apocalypse’ makes for a great headline, but it’s simply not true. Over 4,000 more stores are opening than closing among big chains, and when smaller retailers are included, the net gain is well over 10,000 new stores. As well, through the first seven months of the year, retail sales are up $121.6 billion.”

Other research has pointed to the overall decline of grocery stores, at least in their traditional form, in favor of niche concepts and ecommerce solutions. Additional findings from IHL’s report include:

  • The total net increase of stores for 2017 is 4,080, including retail and restaurants. Core retail segments will see a net gain of 1,326 stores, while table-service and fast-food restaurants will add a net of 2,754 locations. In total, chains are opening a net 14,239 stores and closing 10,123 stores.
  • 42 percent of retailers have a net increase in stores, only 15 percent have a net decrease, and 43 percent report no change.
  • Specialty apparel retailers are experiencing the largest number of closings, with a net loss of 3,137 stores. However, for every chain closing stores, 1.3 chains are opening new stores.
  • Just 16 chains account for 48.5 percent of total number of stores closing. Five of these chains – Radio Shack, Payless Shoesource, Rue21, Ascena Retail and Sears Holdings – represent 28.1 percent of the total store closures.

“Without question, retail is undergoing some fundamental changes,” added Buzek. “The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are over. However, retailers that are focusing on the customer experience, investing in better training of associates and integrating IT systems across channels will continue to succeed.” read more

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