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USDA Programs that Assist Individuals and Small Businesses

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Fact Sheets
USDA Assistance Programs – Disaster

USDA’s authority to provide emergency assistance for its various disaster relief programs exists under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act), Agriculture Secretary disaster designations, Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as well as other authorizing legislation. These authorities are identified in the various USDA program descriptions.

Nutrition Assistance -

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) coordinates with state, local and voluntary organizations to provide food for shelters and other mass feeding sites; and issue Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

USDA Foods for Disaster Assistance

FNS provides USDA Foods to disaster relief agencies for mass feeding sites. Under certain circumstances, states also can release, with FNS approval, USDA Foods to disaster relief agencies to distribute directly to households that are in need.

A request by a State Governor and a Presidential emergency or disaster declaration are required in order to trigger disaster assistance under the Stafford Act.


FNS may authorize a D-SNAP when the President declares a major disaster with individual assistance under the Stafford Act. States must request approval from FNS to issue DSNAP benefits in areas affected by a disaster.

People who might not ordinarily qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) may be eligible for D-SNAP if they had disaster related expenses, such as loss of income, damage to property, relocation expenses, and in some cases, loss of food due to power outages. D-SNAP benefits are provided through an electronic benefit transfer card that can be used at authorized food retailers to buy food.

People who are already participating in the regular SNAP may be eligible for additional benefits under the D-SNAP.

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Updated: 05/21/2018