USDA approves new phase of temporary Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance
Makes $600 million in new benefits available ‘to support disaster recovery’
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico residents continuing to recover from 2017’s hurricanes could be eligible for increased nutrition assistance funded by the U.S. Congress and provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This temporary assistance will be distributed through Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym) beginning as early as August. PAN is administered by USDA and is operated by the island’s Family Department.
NAP is a block grant with a set amount of funding annually. The funding announced Wednesday will augment the assistance available through NAP. Puerto Rico plans to provide a supplemental benefit to all households that participate in NAP over the next 12 months.
The new grant “reflects active collaboration over the last month” with Puerto Rico, the USDA said, to implement the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019.
“Since then, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) staff has been available on-site to help Puerto Rico amend its nutrition assistance plan, as required to distribute NAP funding. On July 2, Puerto Rico officials completed changes outlining how they will deliver disaster benefits and protect integrity. USDA’s approval today will launch $600 million in new benefits to help Puerto Rico residents feed their families, as the recovery continues,” the USDA said in its announcing release.
Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps added that his agency is “ committed to working with local officials to support Puerto Rico’s recovery by providing the vital nutrition assistance families need as they rebuild and restore their communities.”
The announcement is the latest in a series of USDA actions to help residents affected by disaster, which also include authorizing flexibilities in school meals, providing USDA Foods for the Disaster Household Distribution program, and authorizing flexibilities in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).