Washington, D.C. – The Puerto Rican government has just submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a plan to distribute $297 million in nutrition assistance that Congress allocated to the island to mitigate the crisis triggered by the pandemic.
According to a federal official, it was not until Wednesday, April 29, that the Family Department submitted its plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) on the use of the funds allocated through the Families First and CARES Acts, approved March 18 and 27, respectively.
“The FNS will now work hand in hand with Puerto Rico in the review and approval of the plan,” the official told El Nuevo Día.
A month ago, acting Family Secretary Eddie García said he was waiting for the FNS guidelines to submit the plan for the distribution of funds.
However, Frances Rodríguez, spokeswoman for the Department of Family Affairs, said that they did not receive the guidelines for the disbursement of funds.
“The guidelines have been discussed with federal officials,” she said, adding that the FNS is evaluating a request for an increase to the beneficiaries of the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) that “would bring benefits in Puerto Rico up to the standards in the states” as of Monday.
García estimated that Puerto Rico would receive $250 million in emergency nutrition assistance, but the FNS said the allocation to the island would total $297 million.
The Families First Act approved $100 million for Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Samoa and the CARES Act allocated another $200 million to the three territories.
In June, the Family Department will complete the distribution of the last $600 million allocated to the island after Hurricane María, in addition to the $1.9 billion annual allocations that the island receives through NAP.
García indicated that this $600 million package has allowed families and individuals to receive an additional 25 percent from NAP.
After Hurricane María, Congress allocated $1.87 billion in emergency nutrition assistance.