As the current partial government shutdown continues into its fourth week, one of the lingering concerns that may ultimately help bring politicians together to reopen the government is the potential for SNAP beneficiaries to lose out on their benefits if the government is not reopened. (The Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the SNAP program, is not currently funded.) To avoid this issue for the month of February, USDA will be distributing February benefits in the month of January; no new benefits will be distributed in February.
This scenario raises the potential for SNAP beneficiaries to mismanage their benefits due to the unorthodox timing of receiving them. To help minimize scenarios where low-income Americans run out of money for food (assuming the government shutdown continues indefinitely), USDA has developed a standard message for SNAP retailers to share with SNAP beneficiaries. This message can be posted on store bulletin boards, near the entrance, point of sale, or any other place a store manager deems appropriate:
February SNAP Was Delivered Early! 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.
*NOTE: "SNAP EBT" can be replaced with the State's name for SNAP (for example, "the Lone Star card," or "the Independence Card," etc.) where that's preferable.
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