The federal government shutdown — now the longest in our nation’s history — continues to impact millions of Americans’ ability to put food on the table.
When the USDA announced last week that funding was guaranteed for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) through February, it added that benefits for that month would be allocated on or before Jan. 20. For many, this is a full two to three weeks ahead of schedule.
“New Yorkers receiving their February SNAP benefits early need to carefully plan their food budgets as this will need to last through the entire month,” said Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) — the agency responsible for overseeing SNAP in New York. “We will continue to work closely with our local partners to ensure that all SNAP recipients get their February benefits.”
Roberts wanted to ensure that SNAP recipients know that this is not an “extra” or “bonus” benefit and households will not receive a second benefit for the month of February.
“For many people, SNAP benefits rarely last a full month,” said Mitch Gruber, Chief Program Officer for Foodlink. “That’s why there is a concern around the nation about filling SNAP benefits for February earlier than usual. Many people will likely be without any food assistance at the end of February, which could be a real issue for our network of emergency food providers.”
While proper budgeting is the main point of emphasis for now, there’s a greater concern looming for March. In a Q&A provided by OTDA, the office had limited information for how SNAP will be impacted if the shutdown continues.
“OTDA has not yet received any information from the federal government about March SNAP benefits. We will continue to work closely with the federal government during the shutdown and will provide updates on our website at www.otda.ny.gov and through social media as it becomes available.”
Foodlink is communicating the latest news with our network of 400+ member agencies that serve thousands of SNAP recipients in the Rochester area, as well as our Curbside Market customers who depend on SNAP to purchase healthy foods every week. We will continue to update this blog as we learn more.