This morning, the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force along with several organizations across Idaho convened with the Department of Health and Welfare to discuss the government shutdown as it relates to the food stamp program (SNAP). As of right now, anyone who was approved for SNAP benefits on or BEFORE January 15th will receive their benefits early on January 20th. Those who receive February’s benefits early will NOT receive additional benefits for the month of February. Anyone who was approved on or AFTER January 15th will receive their benefits on their regularly scheduled issuance dates in February. February’s funding is coming from a contingency fund from the 2018 appropriations act, but there are no guarantees about funding for March.
It is suggested that everyone budget the benefits they receive on January 20th so they last until their regular March issuance date. WIC, social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and cash assistance are not funded through the appropriations bill so these programs will not be impacted by the shutdown.
If the shutdown continues and benefits cannot be extended into March, the USDA may have to take congressional action, which leaves over 19 million households in the United States at risk of serious hardship and our charitable organizations could potentially see dramatic increases in demand. In Idaho, there are over 600 grocery stores accepting SNAP benefits, so this is quite an economic blow, as well. Nearly 76% of Idaho SNAP recipients are families with children and nearly 30% have senior citizens or individuals with disabilities. The majority of SNAP recipients that can work DO work, but many are facing up to 50 days without benefits even if the government opens prior to March.
The Department of Health and Welfare is still encouraging people to apply for the program. It is not expected that the government will remain closed and SNAP funding depleted, but it is important to arm ourselves with as much information as we can.
Anyone facing hardship is encouraged to call the Idaho Care Line at 2-1-1
The Department of Health and Welfare have provided informational posters in English and Spanish for providers to hang in their organizations to inform the public on the changes to their SNAP benefits.