What if I lose food due to a power outage, fire or a disaster?

We are in the process of updating the SNAP Advocacy Guide, so some of the information is no longer current.  In the meantime, you can read or download a pdf of the 2023 guide from www.masslegalservices.org/FoodStampSNAPAdvocacyGuide

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed January 2020


Disaster SNAP Benefits

When the President of the United States or the Food and Nutrition Service declares a major disaster, families and individuals who live in the disaster area may be eligible for SNAP benefits as long as they meet special (higher) income limits. See Appendix B, Chart 5. 106 C.M.R. §§366.600-366.620. These emergency SNAP benefits are called Disaster SNAP, or D-SNAP. The special benefits are provided to families who are not SNAP recipients at the time.

To receive D-SNAP, the only proof required is proof of your identity (who you are). Other proofs may be requested, but are not mandatory. You do not need to be eligible for or receiving SNAP already to qualify.

If you are already getting benefits and you lose food due to a federally declared disaster, you may also be eligible to receive additional SNAP benefits. Normally the federal government will provide second SNAP payment of benefits because of the disaster. 106 C.M.R. §366.620.


Replacement SNAP Benefits

DTA can also give help you replace food lost due to a fire, flood or power outage - food that you bought with your SNAP benefits. If your food was destroyed or became unsafe to eat because of lack of refrigeration you can ask for replacement SNAP benefits. If the loss is due to a power outage, the outage must have lasted for 4 hours or more. You may get up to the amount of one month’s SNAP benefits. 106 C.M.R. §364.900(C).

You need to report the loss of food to DTA within 10 days of when the food was destroyed or you threw it out. You can do this verbally or in writing. Within the next 10 days, you also need to sign a sworn statement about the destruction of the food purchased with SNAP. See DTA “Request for Replacement SNAP Benefits Due to Household Disaster or Misfortune” form in Appendix C.

DTA may get information on the outage through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) or may make a “collateral contact” to verify the power loss or misfortune that caused the loss of food. For example, DTA may contact the Red Cross, fire department, power company, or landlord. DTA is responsible for helping verifying your report.


More information


DTA Online Guide Sections: SNAP > Household Misfortune > Household Misfortune Procedures 

Show DTA Policy Guidance

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