SNAP Government Shutdown Update

Maine Department of Health and Human Services: February SNAP Benefits to be Paid January 17.
Message from Governor Mills.

SNAP Early Issuance Messaging for Retailers: Customers who use SNAP EBT should keep in mind that February food dollars will be added in the middle of January this year. This means that you may have two months’ worth of food dollars on your account this month. No food dollars will be added in February. The early food dollars are meant to help with next month’s food. We encourage our SNAP-participating customers to plan their purchases carefully so that they have money available to meet their food needs.

Late afternoon on January 10th, USDA held a press conference with the media and clarified that USDA has enough SNAP funding to ensure that the program will be funded throughout the entire month of February. USDA shared that they will look into other options for the month of March, if the shutdown should last that long.

However, in order for SNAP participants to receive February benefits, FNS is advising all States to request approval to issue February SNAP benefits on or before January 20, 2019. February benefits will be made available to participants at that time as part of an early issuance strategy. A letter that was sent from USDA to States last night explaining in further detail can be found HERE. USDA FNS will be working through Q & As throughout the next several days. Should the shutdown be resolved in the coming weeks, statute and regulations require that households not go more than 40 days between SNAP benefit issuances, so USDA would need to work with States to determine how best to meet that requirement.

Retailers and wholesalers need to be prepared for increased SNAP business beginning around January 20th and for a likely lag in February when benefits will not be issued again.

– Courtesy of National Grocers Association

WIC will also be funded at the State level through February. The Secretary’s press release regarding the loading of February benefits by January 20th is for SNAP only.  The January 20th deadline does not apply to WIC.

“Last week we provided $337 million to WIC State agencies to support February benefits. We are working to identify some additional funding and estimate that we will be able to provide a total of approximately $600 million in funding to WIC State agencies by the end of the month. We will continue to work with States to make resources available to the extent possible.”

– Director, Supplemental Food Programs Division, USDA Food and Nutrition Service