February SNAP Benefits Will Be Issued Early Amidst Shutdown

Retailers encouraged to prepare for early issuance of benefits.
January 09, 2019

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the agency’s plan to ensure that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receive their benefits in February if the shutdown persists. Funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees SNAP, expired when Congress failed to pass a measure to fully fund the government on by December 21, 2018. At that time, SNAP benefits for the month of January were fully funded, but an open question remained as to whether the agency would be able to fund benefits in February.

“To protect SNAP participants’ access for February, USDA is working with states to issue February benefits earlier than usual.  USDA will rely on a provision of the just-expired Continuing Resolution (CR), which provides an appropriation for programs like SNAP and Child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations within 30 days of the CR’s expiration.  USDA will be reaching out to states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February.  States will have until January 20th to request and implement the early issuance.  Once the early issuances are made, the February benefits will be made available to SNAP participants at that time,” stated USDA.

“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working with the Administration on this solution.  It works and is legally sound.  And we want to assure states, and SNAP recipients, that the benefits for February will be provided,” Perdue said.  “Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone.’  With this solution, we’ve got the ‘Feed Everyone’ part handled.  And I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the ‘Do Right’ part as well.”

USDA’s early issuance strategy relies on each state to request USDA approval to issue February benefits on or before January 20, 2019. With the early issuance of benefits to SNAP participants, USDA is encouraging SNAP retailers to prepare for early transactions and to staff and stock stores appropriately.