CHARLESTON – The federal government will release Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds meant for February to beneficiaries Sunday, Jan. 20, thanks to the partial federal government shutdown.
“It’s important to note that SNAP recipients will not receive SNAP benefits in February,” said Linda Watts, commissioner of West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families, in a news release. “We urge families to budget as necessary for the month of February since this payment will come earlier than usual.”
This affects all SNAP recipients in the country, not just in West Virginia.
DHHR will continue to accept and process SNAP applications, redeterminations and contact forms, according to the release. SNAP eligibility and verification requirements are unchanged.
DHHR county offices remain open and all appointments and interviews will follow the regular schedule during the partial federal government shutdown.
In Kentucky, Tuesday was the deadline to complete a SNAP application for early issuance. Applicants who are approved after Jan. 15 and before Jan. 30 will receive their benefits for January and February on their EBT cards by Jan. 31.
Area food banks and pantries are preparing for an increase in need due to the shutdown, both from SNAP recipients and federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay thanks to what is now the longest government shutdown in American history.
Cyndi Kirkhart, executive director of Facing Hunger Foodbank in Huntington, said last week during a visit with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that donors always step up to help the food bank in times of need.
“Unfortunately, the amount of food doesn’t always rise at the same time as demand does so we just have to get very aggressive with food support and covering as much as we can,” Kirkhart said.
Kirkhart said they will do everything in their power to ensure people do not go without food.
During his visit Friday, Manchin said he expected the shutdown to end this week. He also advocated for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency over the southern border wall just so the shutdown could end.
Manchin placed the majority of the blame at the feet of Senate President Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who could allow a vote in the Senate to override the president and end the shutdown. On Tuesday McConnell blocked another bill that would do that.
Manchin said if it came to the point of not being able to distribute SNAP funds, that would truly end the shutdown as no one can face children going without food.
To donate monetarily to Facing Hunger Foodbank, which serves residents in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, visit facinghunger.org/donate-today.