DHS Prepares for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

V.I. Department of Human Services

The Presidential Declarations for hurricanes Irma and Maria pertained to the U.S. Virgin Islands as a disaster area.  Additionally, the president must also declare Individual Assistance for the disaster area.  This gives authority to the Virgin Islands to offer the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) locally.  As such, the U.S. Department of Agriculture — Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) must approve the V.I.’s request to operate a D-SNAP.

The V.I. Department of Human Services (DHS) is currently preparing to offer D-SNAP throughout the territory. 

The USVI D-SNAP sites will assist individuals and families at various locations in both districts. In collaboration with the USDA FNS, DHS will be assisting victims who were adversely affected by the two hurricanes.  The details of the D-SNAP will be promoted in upcoming media publications. The program’s eligibility is determined by the following set of criteria. 

  1. Applicants must have lived in the affected area at the time of the disaster. On the islands of St. Thomas and St. John hurricane Irma occurred on Sept. 5. Hurricane Maria occurred on Sept. 19 and effected the island of St. Croix as well as St. Thomas and St. John. St. Thomas and St. John residents may apply for D-SNAP under either Irma or Maria.
  2. Individuals applying for the D-SNAP must not already be receiving regular SNAP.
  3. Applicants must have experienced a disaster-related loss, e.g. damage to home, loss of food, reduction or loss of income, or have incurred other disaster-related expenses.
  4. Applicants must meet federally established financial eligibility. The combined “take home pay,” other income and money available in bank accounts, minus disaster related expenses, cannot exceed the federal program limits. 

 The D-SNAP counts only income received and expenses paid (not reimbursed) during the benefit period.  The benefit period for Hurricane Irma is Sept. 4 through Oct. 3.  The benefit period for Hurricane Maria is Sept. 17 through Oct. 16.  DHS urges all D-SNAP applicants to bring all available supporting documents to facilitate the eligibility process.

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Upon approval of D-SNAP for the Virgin Islands, the program will operate for a limited time for residents to apply.

DHS will set the application period.  Those who qualify will receive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.  Participating grocery stores must be open to process the electronic payments.  DHS will provide updated information as part of its commitment to service the needs of Virgin Islands residents.

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