The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be sending out February’s allotment of food stamps early. SNAP recipients can expect to receive them by the end by the end of Sunday, but they’ll have to be careful how they use them.
Due to the ongoing government shutdown, this will be the last disbursement SNAP will be able to provide until the shutdown is over. Even when it does end, they won’t be able to send out any food stamps until March at the earliest.
SNAP food stamps unavailable until March
In the 26th day of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the effects are rippling beyond the salaries of federal workers and deeper into the lives of everyday citizens and the services they rely on.
SNAP is a federal food assistance program, and it relies on an open and functioning government to keep families fed.
Up until now, they’ve been able to provide food stamps to those who need them a continuing resolution in place made it possible. That resolution, however, only lets them hand out stamps until Jan. 21, and after next week begins, they won’t be allowed to hand out a penny until the shutdown is over.
Their only option is to get every family the funds they’d receive for February before the deadline is up. Those funds will arrive by the end of Sunday at the latest.
The families that get that money are going to have to make it last.
“It’s not extra. It’s an advanced payment,” Department of Workforce Services Eligibility Director Dale Ownby told Deseret News. “Customers who are our ongoing customers may not receive SNAP again until March — and that is only if funding is restored.”
Other federal food programs at risk
SNAP is only one of several federal programs to feed families, all of which could be at risk as the government shutdown continues.
The National WIC Association has reported that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) only has funding to last through the rest of January.
The situation isn’t quite as dire in Utah. Nate Tally at the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget says that they were recently issued grant awards by the USDA that will allow them to extend WIC benefits through the month of February, giving Congress an extra month to come to a solution before recipients are affected.
The Governor’s office says that they will also be able to fund the National School Lunch Program into March, meaning that children relying on free and reduced lunches in their school cafeteria will still be taken care of for some time.
Other states, however, haven’t been as fortunate. The Charlotte Observer has reported that, in North Carolina, Vance County Schools have already been forced to release an announcement warning parents their lunch menu would have to be “revised to a minimum level to conserve food and funding.”
Here in Utah, we’ve been luckier. Most of our programs to ensure those in need stay fed are expected to be able to keep helping hungry families as long as the shutdown doesn’t extend past February.
If the shutdown continues, however, it will take some creative solutions to keep these programs intact.
More to the Story
KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic talked about this on the air and how the Utah Food Bank is working to help make sure that struggling families still get the support they need. If you missed the show, you can still hear everything they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:
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