The Department of Children & Families is requesting a waiver to allow hot foods and hot food products prepared for immediate consumption to be considered “eligible foods” as long as they are purchased in FNS-authorized retail food stores Statewide. Florida is requesting a statewide waiver due to the number of individuals who were under a mandatory evacuation order. The Florida Division of Emergency Management estimated 6.3 million Floridians were under an evacuation order as of September 9, 2017.
Justification for Request: Hurricane Irma has ravaged the State of Florida, and caused many residents to evacuate and temporarily relocate to the northern part of the State and out of State. Most of these evacuees are staying in shelters or other temporary housing arrangements, and are unable to store food or have access to cooking facilities. 587 shelters have been opened in Florida with an estimated population of 203,000 as of September 11, 2017. The need for food will remain critical through September 30, 2017, for these recipients due to the potential loss of food from power outages, severe flooding, and displacement from permanent homes. There is an estimated 6.2 million Floridians without power as of 9 am on September 11, 2017. Waiving the Act and regulation language that excludes the purchase of hot foods and hot food products prepared for immediate consumption will ensure that SNAP recipients most adversely affected by the disaster have the opportunity to have hot meals.
Anticipated Impact on Households: Allowing the purchase of hot foods will assist and provide critical relief to SNAP households most adversely affected by the disaster who are temporarily unable to prepare hot meals due to prolonged power outages and/or displacement from their homes. This language is taken directly from the waiver sent to FNS this AM. We are in communication with them and anticipate their approval. This hot foods waiver request extends through September 30th. Hot foods purchased w/EBT cards are tax exempt.
We have also been told grocers who participate will need to download some special software for their POS machines. They may want to contact their third party provider for more information. FGA staff have already spoken to the TPPs, and they are aware of this detail.