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SNAP food money issued early

February money sent out already

People who get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will probably notice that they got food dollars in their accounts on Wednesday rather than at the beginning of month.

It is not a raise in benefits.

Rather, due to the federal government shutdown, the food dollars for February were issued two weeks early.

Terry Porter, director of the Lawrence County Department of Jobs and Family Services, said SNAP beneficiaries that the amount is for two months and to plan carefully.

“They need to plan their purchases carefully so they wont’ run out and they will have money to meet their food needs,” he said, adding their won’t be another benefit disbursement until March.

There are 7,500 Lawrence County residents currently receiving SNAP benefits.

In a letter from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, they recommended that anyone applying for SNAP benefits to get their paperwork in before the end of the month.

“To reduce the chance of a delay in SNAP benefits, individuals who are newly applying for SNAP, or are completing recertification applications, are highly encouraged to provide any outstanding documentation to their county department of Job and Family Services,” the state recommended. “At this time, the federal government has confirmed applications and recertifications will be processed up to Jan. 30. After that date, the continued issuance of SNAP benefits will be determined by the status of the federal government shutdown.”

The decision to distribute the food money early came last week after President Donald J. Trump ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come up with a plan to ensure that low-income Americans have access to the nutrition they need, despite the inability of Congress to pass an appropriations bill that safely secures the southern U.S. Border with Mexico, according to a release from the USDA.

When USDA’s funding expired on Dec. 21, 2018, SNAP benefits for January were fully funded. Ohio and other states have already received that money and distributed it to participants.

For February funding, the USDA relied on a provision of the just-expired Continuing Resolution (CR), which provides an appropriation for programs like SNAP and child nutrition to incur obligations for program operations within 30 days of the CR’s expiration.

According to the USDA, it has also ensured the other major nutrition assistance programs have sufficient funding to continue operations into February. The child nutrition programs, including school meals and after-school programs have funding available to continue operations through March. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for  Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has prior year funding which USDA will begin to provide states this week to facilitate February benefits.

Other FNS programs, which provide critical assistance to our nation’s food banks, the elderly, and Tribal nations, may continue to utilize grant funding provided prior to the lapse in appropriations. Commodity deliveries to those programs will continue.