WASHINGTON, April 11, 2023 – Approximately 7,000 families in Cross and Pulaski County affected by recent tornadoes and severe storms will soon be able to receive food packages containing nutritious, high-quality foods that are 100% grown and produced on farms in the U.S. – known as USDA Foods. USDA approved the short-term measure to address an immediate need for food until a longer-term solution is ready to be put in place.
“In challenging times, USDA plays a crucial role in supporting Americans, and none are more challenging than climate-related disasters that threaten lives, destroy communities, and disrupt food systems,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Until the recovery is complete, we will continue to coordinate with our state, local, and federal partners to help get food and nutrition assistance to them when they need it most.”
The Disaster Household Distribution program has been approved to start on April 7, 2023. Arkansas officials will work directly with its partners and local food banks to issue food boxes to participants located in the affected areas.
The Disaster Household Distribution program helps states after a disaster disrupts normal food supply channels. For instance, when disasters damage or destroy grocery stores, states can redirect stored supplies of USDA Foods from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) toward emergencies. The USDA can also ship USDA Food from other states. USDA can then replace the redirected foods so that the state continues to have USDA foods available for those in need.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved Arkansas Department of Education request for waivers for Child Nutrition Program operations impacted by a tornado on March 31, 2023. During unanticipated school closures, Wynne School District may serve meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO) in a non-congregate setting, adjust the timing of meal service, allow parent pick-up, and serve meals at school sites under the waiver approval.
Additionally, FNS approved a waiver allowing Wynne School District to serve NSLP and School Breakfast Program (SBP) meals in a non-congregate setting, adjust the time of meal service, and allow parent pick up for students unable to eat in a congregate setting due to closure of school buildings, or students learning in an alternate location.
For more information about this and other available aid, please visit Arkansas’ Division of Emergency Management.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of more than 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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