The government shutdown is in its 18th day and there is no end in sight.
The US Department of Agriculture will still send out Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, benefits for January and February despite the shutdown.
The USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs will also be funded into February, but it is unclear what will happen if the shutdown continues after that.
Other food programs such as Commodity Supplemental Food Program and WIC will not receive federal funding during the shutdown, but may continue using state and local funds.
With no sign of ending anytime soon, the government shutdown is starting to take its toll on federal services and workers. But for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, there is some good news — for now.
According to a plan released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), SNAP benefits will be available during the start of the shutdown as previously appropriated funding is carried over to meet the needs of the program.
In the initial USDA release about the shutdown, the department said SNAP benefits for January would be available but there was no commitment for February. In a call with reporters on Tuesday, the USDA announced that the department will send money for February’s benefits to states that administer the program.
USDA officials could not commit to providing SNAP benefits in March.
But, given the fact that President Donald Trump threatened to shut the government down for “months or even years” during a meeting with congressional leaders on Friday, the uncertainty of SNAP benefits beyond February could become a problem if the shutdown continues for a historic amount of time.
Funding for the USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs including “School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk” will also continue into February, according to the USDA’s plan.
But while SNAP and the Child Nutrition Program are safe for now, other food programs under the USDA’s purview are not as lucky.
Also, other non-SNAP domestic food programs are no longer receiving federal funding, but may be sustained through state and local funding. The programs that are no longer receiving USDA funds include the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a program focusing on low income seniors; The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
95% the staff at the office of Food and Nutrition Services— which oversees SNAP benefits and other food programs — is now on furlough and no longer receiving pay.
In addition to the food programs, other essential USDA duties including the inspection of eggs, dairy, and other food products will continue. Those services deemed non-essential, such as research or the staffing of some national forests, are discontinued.
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The shutdown is now in its 18th day and there is no clear end in sight. Trump administration officials and congressional leaders met over the weekend, but it’s unclear if any real progress has been made.