The Department of Agriculture has come up with a plan and budget to ensure Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits continue to pay out through February.
“President Donald Trump directed the Office of Management and Budget and USDA to determine a way to fully fund all the SNAP through the month of February, and we will do just that,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said.
Brandon Lipps, acting Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) said the agency can keep providing benefits because of a provision in the last continuing resolution, allowing USDA program operations like SNAP and child nutrition programs to incur new obligations within 30 days of the continuing resolution’s expiration.
USDA has until January 20th to pay out February SNAP benefits.
“The funds that we’re advising you today that we will be using are appropriated from the continuing resolution that expired on December 21, and so will not need to be appropriated in a future bill,” Lipps said.
Section 110 of the resolution states “funds shall be available for entitlements and other mandatory payments under the 2008 Food and Nutrition Act until 30 days after the resolution expires.
USDA has also provided early SNAP benefits to states impacted by natural disasters and follows the same template to pay out benefits during the shutdown.
“If you look at the past hurricane seasons when states are aware that a hurricane is headed toward their state, they work with us to request the ability to issue their benefits early as a lot of people evacuate their state. They will want to take those benefits with them and use them wherever they go,” Lipps said. He went on to say that he knows “this is a time of great uncertainty and no doubt some anxiety for the people who rely on SNAP in dealing with tough times. I hope that 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 has encouraged states to request early issuance of February SNAP benefits before the January 20th deadline.
New households can still sign up for SNAP benefits as well.
The department has also identified prior year-end funds that will allow Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs to operate through February.
USDA functions such as food safety inspections and national forest law enforcement remain in effect during the shutdown.
Perdue said the stopgap solution serves USDA’s motto of “Do right and feed everyone”.
“At the president’s direction, we’ve been working with OMB on this solution. It works and is legally sound, and we want to assure sates and SNAP recipients that the benefits for February will be provided,” Perdue said.
If the shutdown continues into February, its possible SNAP and WIC benefits could be disrupted for March.