Food stamp benefits guaranteed through February despite shutdown
As the partial government shutdown continues into a third week, there is no end in sight and the impacts are making it rough for some families. SNAP, a government program that assists low-income households to make sure they get the nutrition they need, could be affected.
The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare latest numbers show close to nine-percent of all Idahoans receive food stamps. The numbers are about the same for Nez Perce County, with Lewis County being one of the highest in the state at more than 12-percent. Participation has dropped substantially since 2012, but roughly 150,000 Idahoans still participate in the program.
In Washington state, the numbers are even higher according to Food Research and Action Center. Close to 14-percent of households in the Evergreen state rely on food stamps for basic nutrition. In Asotin County, that number is even higher at more than 18-percent. However, the numbers in both Garfield and Whitman County are around 10-percent.
The USDA has extended the plan to ensure food stamps continue through February. USDA will be reaching out to states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. States will have until January 20 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.
If the shutdown continues past February, the USDA has not announced what measures it would take. Food stamp contingency money is expected to run out in April. President Trump has vowed the shutdown could last months or even years.