In the midst the uncertainty created by the government shutdown, there was a little bit of good news last week when the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) released a statement ensuring that the SNAP benefits for February 2019 will be fully funded. We are extremely impressed and grateful for Jessica Shahin and the FNS’ swift work in coming up with a solution for February funding. As stated in the USDA announcement SNAP households will receive their February benefits on or before January 20th. As Dottie Rosenbaum mentions in her updated CBPP report, this ensures that the eligible low-income households and the newly applying will be able to receive both January and February food assistance and benefits.
However, one drawback that may occur due to the early February SNAP benefits is the lack of general knowledge on the issue, as the general public may not be as well informed on the current situation with SNAP funding. It’s already hard for SNAP households to stretch their monthly food budget, but this creative solution for funding has introduced a sudden shift in benefit timing. Altogether, it is a recipe for confusion. Low-income households and SNAP beneficiaries must realize that the benefits they are receiving now is for the entire month of February and must possibly last them into March 2019 depending on if there is an adjustment in the March benefits timing. It is our job to help inform our communities. Spread the word and remind SNAP recipients to plan and spend wisely.
Another drawback is the impact on all of the SNAP agencies and staff out there that determine eligibility and make sure accurate benefits get out the door every month. We hear from our state and county clients that they are scrambling to get all of their February work done early in order to get benefits out the door by Monday. Big shout out to all of impacted SNAP staff, and a big thank you for being hunger heroes in your communities!
We are in unprecedented times. We know that many of you, like us, are affected by the shutdown and concerned about what the future holds. We will continue to do our part to keep our community updated as things unfold. We are taking it one day at a time.