Get help. Give help. A Food Assistance Guide for Those in Need and Those Who Want to Help
Even though the government is open, the shutdown will have lasting effects. Many hard-working Idahoans continue to face uncertainty. Some have missed multiple paychecks, government contractors do not expect any back pay, and roughly 40 million Americans who receive food stamps don’t have full confidence that they will continue to receive benefits.
You can help. You can get help.
Many SNAP Households Will Experience a Long Gap Between Monthly Benefits Even if Shutdown Ends
A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates that the gap between SNAP benefits caused by the government shutdown will cause many individuals and families to face heightened difficulties affording food and will place additional strain on emergency food networks and other community resources.
The effort to issue February SNAP (or food stamp) benefits early to avoid benefit cuts as a result of the partial government shutdown has created a new problem: a lengthy delay between February benefits (which Idaho beneficiaries received on January 20) and March benefits. About 15 million households, which include about 30 million people, could experience a gap between monthly SNAP payments of more than 40 days. Here in Idaho, 150,000 people may be affected as benefits run out well before the March 1-10 issuance.
Federal Food Assistance Programs and The Government Shutdown’s Impact on Them
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the program formerly known as food stamps. Idaho will be issuing early food stamp benefits on January 20 for all households with approved benefits for February. All households approved for February benefits, as of January 15, will receive the early issuance. These households will not receive another benefit issuance in February, which means their next benefit issuance will be on their regular scheduled issuance date in March. If the shutdown continues, USDA will not have enough funds to fully cover March SNAP benefits without additional appropriated funds. Get more information on the February SNAP allocation here.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) improves the health of low-income seniors at least 60 years of age, by adding nutritious food to their diets. The Idaho Foodbank serves 2,200 seniors each month through this program. Distribution will continue on the regular schedule through March. Through CSFP, eligible seniors receive a free monthly food box that includes nutrition information and helpful recipes. During a shutdown, CSFP receives no new funds, including administrative funds. The Idaho Foodbank CSFP Program is funded through March. Learn more about The Idaho Foodbank’s CSFP Program here.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) helps supplement the diets of Idahoans who are low-income, including the elderly, by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost. The Idaho Foodbank supports the TEFAP program in Eastern Idaho. The Community Action Partnership Association manages the distribution of TEFAP across the other regions. Current updates indicate that distribution will continue on the regular schedule through March. During a shutdown, TEFAP receives no new funds, including administrative funds, which means The Idaho Foodbank and the other distributors need to find a way to cover those costs. Learn more about The Idaho Foodbank’s TEFAP Program here.
Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. USDA announced that they have resources to cover state expenditures on WIC benefits and program administration through February. We do not expect there to be any interruption in WIC services.
Child Nutrition Programs, such as school meal programs, summer programs and afterschool programs are funded to cover the operations for the month of January. USDA announced they will provide an additional two months’ worth of funding to ensure uninterrupted operations through March. Structured as a reimbursement model, child nutrition program providers are reimbursed 30 days after the end of the service month. This typically results in school districts and providers serving meals as planned. They could possibly see a delay in reimbursement processing which creates a challenge for cash-flow purposes. In Idaho, 49% of our public school children receive reduced priced or free meals at school.
The WIC Farmers’ Market (FMNP) Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs. USDA announced there should not be an interruption as this program is seasonal with annual grants.
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) allows Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to operate a food distribution program as an alternative to SNAP for those living on or near an Indian reservation. USDA announced food deliveries planned for February will continue. However, FDPIR programs only have administrative funding through January 31 to operate the program.
Senior Nutrition Programs include both home-delivered meals such as Meals on Wheels and senior congregate feeding programs. These are fully funded for the federal fiscal year. These programs operate through the Department of Health and Human Services, which is not part of the shutdown as it was funded in an earlier appropriations bill.
The above information was provided by Feeding America and will be updated as new information becomes available. To read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities click here: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
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