SNAP & the Shutdown

Jan 10, 2019

Note: Since this announcement was made, NGA has been working to gather information of each state’s distribution plan. Click HERE for a spreadsheet of the information tracked down thus far. Please note this is subject to change as some states have had to move their distribution date due to request by the processors who manage the EBT systems for each state. NGA will continue to update this spreadsheet on a regular basis.

The partial government shutdown has had serious effects on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the independent grocery industry. Since the shutdown began on December 21, 2018, many retailers across the country have been unable to renew their SNAP licenses or acquire SNAP licenses for new or purchased stores.

Also of concern is the duration of SNAP funding. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the agency would take advantage of temporary funding to cover the cost of SNAP benefits for the month of February. WIC will also be funded at the State level through February. USDA shared that they will look into other options for the month of March, if the shutdown should last that long.

In order for SNAP participants to receive February benefits, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is advising all States to issue February SNAP benefits on or before January 20, 2019. February benefits will be made available to participants at that time as part of an early issuance strategy.

It is important to note, customers will be able to immediately utilize these benefits as soon as they are loaded and that these are the full February benefits.  Recipients will not have any additional funds loaded during the month of February. 

USDA FNS will be working through Q&As throughout the next several days, and NGA will share these when they become available. Should the shutdown be resolved in the coming weeks, statute and regulations require that households not go more than 40 days between SNAP benefit issuances, so USDA would need to work with States to determine how best to meet that requirement. NGA is actively engaged on this issue, meeting with Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle, and has been in contact with the limited staff at USDA FNS. To view a shutdown fact sheet from NGA, click here.

A companion message from IGA CEO John Ross... 

The government shutdown is having significant impact on your stores and the customers you serve, and we understand that you no doubt have additional questions. 

Many that I have heard even in the last few hours include:

  • Are March benefits at risk?
  • How quickly can we expect to see a resolution to negotiations in Washington? 
  • If a resolution came, how quickly would the regular SNAP benefit schedule be restored?

Rest assured we are aligned with your concerns,  our confidence in the NGA leaders working on your behalf is high, and we will get the answers you need. Stay tuned to email for updates as they become available. 

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