Amid Shutdown, Feds Figure Out Ways to Fund Food Stamp Benefits. For Now.

Rrrainbow/Shutterstock.com

States have until Jan. 20 to request an early issuance to make sure they receive February SNAP funding.

The Trump administration announced late Tuesday that it can take steps to ensure there is enough money to continue paying for federal food benefits for low-income families through February, despite the partial government shutdown.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is one of the agencies that was not funded before the shutdown started on Dec. 21. At that time, it was clear that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps, would be financed through the end of January. What would happen if the shutdown extended beyond this month was less certain.

As President Trump’s stalemate with Congress has dragged on, state and local officials expressed concerns about what would happen to this assistance poor families depend on. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Tuesday announced that the agency has found ways to tap funding to keep SNAP going, as well as other nutrition programs run by the agency, such as those that provide school lunches to children from low-income families.

To keep SNAP funds flowing for another month, USDA will use a provision of the last “continuing resolution” that temporarily financed the agency that allows officials to tap money within 30 days of the CR’s end. This means states should contact USDA by Jan. 20 to request early issuance of funding, according to a news release.

“This is exactly what they [state officials] needed to hear,” said John Hicks, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. SNAP was a significant shutdown concern for states, as the program assists 38 million people across the country, largely families with children. While the federal government pays the benefits, states administer the programs.

USDA expects to make available both the benefits and state administration money for February, totaling $5.1 billion, according to the agency.

Brandon Lipps, an acting deputy under secretary, said during a conference call that letters would be sent to states to explain the expedited process, according to the Associated Press.

"We know this is a time of great uncertainty, and no doubt anxiety for people who rely on SNAP and are dealing with tough times,” he said during the call. “I hope it's reassuring for us to make clear today that we're committed to maintaining service to SNAP clients without interruption to the extent possible under the law."

USDA officials also said they had found ways to fund other key nutrition programs, such as ones that pay for schools to provide free and reduced-price breakfast and lunches to students who qualify. For those programs, states will get money to keep them going through March, the agency indicated.

Another key program, Women, Infants and Children, provides baby formula and other assistance to pregnant women and families with babies. USDA officials said they would send $600 million in additional funding to state agencies to maintain those benefits through February.

While commodity food, which is primarily sent to food banks, will continue through February, USDA acknowledged that administrative funding that states receive to run that program has lapsed and won’t be available until after the shutdown.

In a statement, Robert Greenstein with the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities called on the Trump administration and Congress to end the shutdown, noting that if it lasts into March some of these key food programs will then run out of money. “If that happens, millions of poor children, seniors, and others will face hunger and hardship,” he said.

On Wednesday, Trump reiterated his pledge to not back down from keeping much of the government shutdown in order to get his requested $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico. House Democrats, who have said that is not a good use of federal tax dollars, also began voting on legislation to fund various agencies.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.