Montgomery - The U. S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved a temporary waiver that will permit food assistance recipients to use their benefits to purchase hot foods in those counties designated for disaster assistance.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) requested and received a Waiver for Eligible Foods Definition from FNS May 2, 2011. Under normal food assistance regulations, hot foods ready for consumption are not eligible for purchase with food benefits. The waiver is in effect immediately and continues through May 31, 2011.
Counties in which food assistance recipients may purchase hot foods in accordance with this waiver are Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Walker and Winston County.
“We appreciate the promptness in which FNS responded to our request,” stated DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. “We hope that the ability to purchase hot foods will provide some relief to those food assistance recipients who are unable to prepare their own food because their homes have been damaged or destroyed.”
The waiver will take effect immediately in already designated counties, and becomes effective in additional counties on the date that an individual assistance designation is granted for those counties.
The Waiver for Eligible Foods Definition is separate from a waiver already received by DHR that allowed the Food Assistance Program to issue May food benefits early on May 1, 2011. Those early benefits allow recipients to access their benefits earlier than normal but do not provide any additional food benefits to recipients.
Other programs designed to assist families with their nutritional needs are being pursued and will be announced as they become available.
All states operate the food assistance program according to regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.