SNAP, WIC to Receive Funding Despite Government Shutdown
Both programs are government-based nutrition programs that aim to assist low-income households in purchasing groceries and maintaining balanced diets.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Director Richard Whitley says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) February payment will be issued at the end of January to ensure recipients are not affected by the federal shutdown. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will be funded through February. Both programs are government-based nutrition programs that aim to assist low-income households in purchasing groceries and maintaining balanced diets. SNAP is the largest hunger safety net in the nation covering most households that need food assistance. WIC is a special kind of government assistance program that strives to provide pregnant women, infants and young children with the most basic nutrition they need to maintain healthy lifestyles.
“We are deeply concerned about the uncertainty these circumstances present to the individuals and families we serve and to the impact it will have on our community partners,” said Whitley. “DHHS is continuing conversations with the federal Food and Nutrition Agency within the United States Department of Agriculture and other community stakeholders as we work together to ensure participants receive the benefits for which they are eligible.”
The Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS) will issue SNAP benefits on Jan. 20, rather than waiting until the regular issue date of Feb. 1, to ensure recipients will receive benefits they can use in February. SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, serves approximately 228,000 Nevada households each month. Typically, benefits are issued on the first of each month but, in this special case, benefits will be issued on Jan. 20. The February allotment will be automatically loaded onto SNAP recipients’ EBT cards on Jan. 20. “This is not a bonus or extra benefit and the money should be allocated to last through the end of February,” said Steve Fisher, DWSS Administrator. “ SNAP recipients are encouraged to budget carefully to ensure their benefit can support them as intended through the end of February.”
For more information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other assistance programs administered by the DHHS Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, visit the website here
To date, WIC has not been affected by the ongoing government shutdown and will be funded through February. In Nevada, there are 56,934 WIC participants.
For more information about WIC administered by the DHHS Division of Public and Behavioral Health, visit the website here
The Food Bank of Northern Nevada faces some stark realities as the partial government shutdown continues. Come the end of January, more than 440,000 Nevadans who rely on government assistance may need a new place to turn.
"We would not be able to replace SNAP, we would not be able to replace those commodities right now,” explains Al Brislain, President and CEO of The Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
Hundreds of thousands of Nevada families could lose significant benefits at the end of this month if the Department of Agriculture remains unfunded.
Food stamp programs such SNAP - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are run by that department. And The Food Bank of Northern Nevada says they cannot fill the void if funding runs out.
Come February about $3 billion dollars - currently in reserve with the Department of Agriculture - could kick in to support food programs if the government shutdown continues: "We're being told that SNAP will go through February, but we haven't seen anything official yet. But, after that it's really up in the air." Brislain tells us.
It's The Food Bank of Northern Nevada's clients who will be hit the hardest if funding dries up - about 60 percent of them are food stamp - or SNAP –recipients: "Between SNAP and what the Food Bank does, they're able to get by there's no way that we would be able to replace that."
Nearly 15 percent of Nevadans receive SNAP benefits, many of them seniors and children, "About half the SNAP recipients are kids. Kids going to bed hungry is not good for anybody." says Brislain.
In addition, if the Department of Agriculture does not get funded, The Food Bank of Northern Nevada will stop receiving commodities - supplemental food - set aside to help seniors. "Right now we're receiving some great pork, beans, rice some fresh apples, things like that."
The President and CEO of The Food Bank says losing those resources and facing increased demand is a one-two punch that's impossible to handle: "We don't have a plan B. We've got to get government back to working. Government is… SNAP is what feeds a lot of families in our community."
We also reached out to the Nevada Department of Health And Human Services... which oversees the department in charge of SNAP.
Officials say they are concerned and looking forward to updates, adding —
"...This program is very important. The possible impacts of reduced food aid are serious, there is strong evidence that SNAP reduces food insecurity, improves health outcomes and household's financial well-being."
All SNAP eligible households are guaranteed to receive benefits through the month of January.