The Trump administration has denied a request from Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello to allow hurricane victims to use food stamps to purchase prepared hot meals at restaurants and supermarkets amid widespread food shortages and power outages in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, despite previously allowing Texas and Florida to lift those restrictions.
The New York Times reports that the administration has denied a waiver to allow nearly 1.3 million Puerto Ricans on food stamps, almost 40 percent of its population, to use the benefits of the federal program to buy fast food or pre-prepared meals at supermarkets.
According to The Hill, food-stamp recipients are usually prohibited from buying hot foods and other items that can be eaten “in store” such as sandwiches, soup or pizza.
Puerto Rico requested the administration temporarily lift the restrictions on the program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
So far, the administration has refused, even after granting similar waivers in Texas after Hurricane Harvey and in Florida after Hurricane Irma. The SNAP waivers for Texas and Florida expired Sept. 30.
Many of the island’s supermarkets are still without electricity after the storm, disabling the computers needed to redeem the credits.
An estimated 95 percent of Puerto Rico still remains without power, more than one week after Maria slammed into the island.
The Times reports that bureaucratic inefficiencies have delayed critical deliveries to many towns, which have impaired accessibility from the storm’s damage to roads and infrastructure.