USDA Disaster Nutrition Assistance Programs

USDA Disaster Nutrition Assistance Programs

November 9, 2019 6 By William Morgan


It’s been raining for like the past four
or five days here in South Carolina.
At least nine people have died in South
Carolina following what officials are calling
a thousand-year storm.
Hundreds have been forced from their homes…
Roads and bridges are closed.
We’ve got to get
people downstream evacuated…
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because if this dam goes…
50,000 people are going to be washed
away.
I grabbed my kids…
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and prayed that the water didn’t come any higher.
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Once we got into the first 24 hours and water started to come through underneath the front door…
That’s when we knew it was serious.
All the rain fell.
We had like roads collapse…
some bridges collapse.
A lot of damage.
I really underestimated the whole scenario.
It was a lot of water
everywhere.
In October 2015 there was severe
flooding throughout the state and because
of that we had 24 counties that were
presidentially declared disaster areas.
So that’s over half of our state.
We had people who lost their houses.
People who lost their cars.
They may have lost work!
So we’re here trying to make people whole.
Trying to help people recover from the flood
even though we’re a month out.
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The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has
three primary disaster Nutrition
Assistance Programs. We can provide USDA Foods for congregate feeding. This would be feeding
being conducted by a local feeding organizations such as the
American Red Cross or the Salvation Army.
We deal with Congregate Feeding.
Mass Feeding for anybody and anybody that’s affected by the floods.
We work with our partners
and mass feeding which would be
the Red Cross and the Southern Baptists
and providing feeding wherever the call
may be.
And so that’s where we come in…
and when they need food they can come to us and we can access our stores of USDA Foods, whether it’s in our
state contracting warehouses or
even in school locations and we can put
those resources to using get those to
the shelter is that neither most.
When we see a storm coming, we reach out to all of our states in the region to find out
what their current inventories are.
All protein! All protein goes here!
And how it works for us in South Carolina. We had that inventory
We were able to look at what our menus are. And we were able to take those menu items
and substitute USDA Food free of charge.
At the federal level, disaster feeding response is organized under FEMA’s National
Response framework. That framework is
broken down into 14 Emergency Support Functions
Food Assistance is operated
under Emergency Support Function-11
and we worked very closely with Emergency Support Function-6, which is Mass Care.
In a presidentially declared disaster or
emergency, FEMA will work with our
voluntary agency partners to respond to
any disaster event. We do this in conjunction with
ESF-11 of which USDA is the primary coordinator.
So it’s important that ESF-11 and ESF-6 talk to one another
and have a good relationship built.
The worst thing you can do during a disaster, is to walk into somewhere and you
don’t know who you’re talking to, you never met them before.
So having those established relationships before disaster strikes is key so that it could
speed up the disaster feeding response
as much as possible.
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We also have the USDA Foods that can be
provided as part of a disaster household
distribution program and that would be
food that would be put together in food
boxes and again provided by disaster
feeding organizations to distribute to
households that are sheltering in place.
When Sandy hit we saw that was really going
to be a serious impact on a high
population area.
There’s a real need
because many of the grocery stores
weren’t open, so the Food Nutrition
Service was able to provide us with foods
for disaster household boxes where people could
prepare their own foods but
didn’t necessarily have access to foods.
We were able to provide meals to 23,000
people.
Maybe sometime for clients don’t always realize where the coming from
but… we did not have those foods in house!
The USDA made a huge difference.
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We are expecting 18,000 people over the
week.
We’re expecting approximately 50,000 applications.
Yesterday, we saw close to 3,000…
My neighbor who’s here today
called me this morning said, they’re here…
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let’s go!
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We have the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and this is a
program that would meet the needs of individuals who might not qualify for our regular
SNAP program, but who have experienced disaster-related expenses such as loss of income or loss
of property they’ve had relocation
expensives or in some cases loss of food
due to power outages.
If you already have SNAP benefits this line is not for you to use. It’s gonna be applied to your card automatically ok?
We are helping those that were impacted by the flood.
So we have our general population coming in through this door.
They come in, they are
filling out their applications.
They see a certification worker and then we refer them to issuance.
We also have a special area for our disabled and elderly.
State agencies need to weigh carefully whether or not a D-SNAP is the most
appropriate response for their population.
So, for instance several things need to be in place.
The impacted areas need to receive a presidentially declared disaster for individual assistance; also, commercial
channels of food distribution need to be
up and running.
Grocery stores need to be open so that
people have places to go and shop and redeem their benefits.
South Carolina went through a lot.
Where it started rising? Yeah.
This program truly means the difference between a family sometimes being homeless and not.
My name’s Kimberly, I’ll be assisting you today.
Sometimes being able to put food on the table for their family or not.
It’s an opportunity for families to be made whole.
I’m here to volunteer with DSS, D-SNAP program because the need is so
great and the people are so grateful.
the biggest thing that I would consider is the flow of the customers and being well organized.
1540!
Having a flow where the customers know where to go.
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That you have enough staff.
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To be able to direct people, as well as to help people to complete their applications if need be and to
direct them to issuance.
and you can go to issuance.
and then to direct them to exit.
Thank God there’s a system, that…it works!
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Any little bit of help that anybody can
give me goes a long way… a long, long way.
I get a chance to serve others. It’s
just important to see that as an agency
we can make a difference in the lives of
so many.
To me it means that someone cares, somewhere.
If USDA can be even a small part of providing meals to families that have been through disaster
We can go home and we can say it’s been a good day.
Thank you a million, million times over for being here for the people of South Carolina.
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