SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym) has been granted $1.27 billion through the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act of 2017.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) assistance will be distributed by the Puerto Rico Family Department to eligible residents beginning March 1. These funds allow assistance to be expanded additional households, and increases the benefit amount for current and new participants temporarily basis. The new maximum allotment for a family of four will be $649.
Puerto Rico’s PAN differs from the stateside Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which also serves the U.S. Virgin Islands, in that PAN is a block grant with a set amount of funding annually. This new supplemental funding for Puerto Rico “recognizes the sustained economic disruption faced by the island,” as it recovers from the “back-to-back disasters” that were the September storms.
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“The people of Puerto Rico still face immense challenges, as the island recovers from multiple hurricanes,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says in Tuesday’s announcement. “This grant fulfills the Administration’s pledge to support the recovery and our commitment to ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico get the vital nutrition assistance they need to move forward.”
“This grant is part of a collaborative effort with our team at the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Family, and the Administration of Federal Affairs of Puerto Rico in Washington D.C. who have succeeded in showing that our people face unprecedented challenges after two catastrophic hurricanes,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló adds in the release.
In developing the plan to provide the temporary benefits, the commonwealth government said it considered the local low-income nutrition program’s structure and the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is “responsible for providing technical expertise and guidance to ensure compliance with the law.”
The Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Grant announcement is the latest of USDA actions to help residents affected by disaster. Other USDA FNS food assistance for disaster relief include the School Meal Flexibilities program, the Disaster Household Distribution program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).