By Kate Scully, Director of Government Affairs
Update 1/15/19 : Pennsylvania has committed to releasing SNAP benefit early to ensure people can receive their February benefits during the government shutdown. February benefits will be loaded onto the Electronic Benefit Cards (EBT) by the end of the day on January 16th. No other benefits will be release for February and it is unclear what will happen to March benefits if the government continues to be closed. It is important for anyone receiving SNAP to know:
February benefits were issued early and the amount on your EBT card is not a mistake.
No other issuance of benefits will be happening in February so the amount on an EBT card must last until, at the earliest, your March disbursement date.
If the shutdown, continues it is unclear if/when March benefits will be issued.
Anyone with their SNAP renewal or application in process should receive a one time payment once their paperwork is processed.
If you have questions call 877-395-8930 or in Philadelphia call 215-560-7226.
As the government shutdown continues, we at Philabundance are very concerned about how this will impact — and potentially increase — hunger in our area. With over 700,000 people in our service area already struggling with hunger, we are facing a crisis that will only be increased by this shutdown.
Right now, thousands of federal employees are not being paid for their work. They are either temporarily laid off or working without pay and may struggle to keep the lights on and food on the table. They are workers who keep us safe when we fly, keep our national parks beautiful and keep our streets and buildings clean.
If the shutdown continues, this will also be felt by individuals who rely on government programs. Recently, the USDA committed to providing SNAP and other nutritional benefits through the end of February but they made no promises if the shutdown continues into March. States will need to move quickly to release February’s benefits early and it might prove difficult for states to complete and confusing for SNAP beneficiaries. SNAP is the nation’s best and largest defense against hunger and millions of seniors, veteran, kids, people with disabilities and working families rely on the program to keep food on the table. In Philadelphia, over $65 million in SNAP benefits are allotted each month to over 450,000 people. It is a huge program that is critical for the health and well-being of so many. Any disruption will have devastating effects nationwide.
For recipients who rely on the Commodities Supplement Food Program (CSFP) or The Emergency Food Program (TEFAP) —this food is still available. CSFP supports the senior box program which we learned is now available until at least May. TEFAP provides food to the food bank system and should also have food available through March. While, thankfully, food will continue to flow, the financial support provided to food banks to distribute the food will not be paid during the shutdown.
For those government workers who need food assistance while their pay is suspended, find a location near you.
We at Philabundance hope that this government shutdown will come to an end quickly. We will do our best to serve everyone who needs food, but we know we cannot make up the difference of SNAP or other government programs. The longer it continues the more people will struggle to support themselves and their families. This shutdown is hurting our nation today and needs to end.