Because of the federal shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has instructed states to issue February’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits by Sunday, Jan. 20. Benefits would normally be available to families between the 3rd and 21st of February.
“We are working closely with county departments of social services and our federal partners to ensure participants and retailers have little to no interruption of FNS services due to the shutdown,” said Tara Myers, NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Human Services.
FNS is a federal food assistance program that provides low-income families with funds to purchase food needed for a nutritional, adequate diet. Once February’s FNS funds are distributed, they will be available for use. However, participants should be aware that since there will be no FNS benefits issued in the month of February, they should plan accordingly.
Despite the federal shutdown, DHHS projects to have sufficient funds through February, not only for FNS, but also for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). However, if the federal shutdown continues, funding for these services could run out after February.
For more information on FNS, go to www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services/food-nutrition-services-food-stamps or contact your local county DSS office.
DHHS Monitoring funds in light of lack of funds due to shutdown
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) could be taking a hit next month in February if the partial shutdown doesn’t come to an end.In response to an inquiry to NC DHHS, Press Assistant at the Office of Communications, Kelly Haight stated, “We are continuing to monitor the potential impact of the federal government shutdown to the Department. Based on the latest information available, we can continue to operate the TANF and SNAP/WIC food programs with funds that will likely be exhausted in February. We will continue to monitor funding levels and are working closely with our federal partners on contingency plans to extend these programs as long as possible. For the short-term, we do not expect any major impacts for the individuals and families we serve or for our employees at DHHS.”Grocery store owners and management are concerned in some towns across America because this will pose an economic downfall for them starting this year. Loss of this assistance for citizens hurts the beneficiaries and the businesses. SNAP only has enough funding to make it into Feb.Earlier this month, speculations and rumors began to circulate that WIC would also be affected as a 2013 government shutdown article began to recirculate. However, the NWICA (National WIC Association) issued a press release Jan. 7 actively stating WIC will remain open.” WIC participants and retailers should be assured that WIC’s operations will continue normally for the time being. However, a prolonged shutdown will drain WIC agencies of critical resources, potentially resulting in clinic closures and other adverse consequences to participants.”
The Onslow Beat reached out to The Food Bank of Central Eastern NC Digital Strategy Manager, Lindsay Humbert, to see if there’s any alternative for proactive preparations for citizens who use these benefits for nutritional needs to feed their families.“Like all food banks, food from FBCENC is distributed to families and individuals via our network of local food pantries. We have over 800 Partner Agencies across our 34 county service area. We are working with them to be prepared for an increase in clients needed food assistance due to any ripple effects of the shutdown. Anyone within our 34 counties who needs food assistance (because they are without SNAP/WIC, because they are without paychecks, or for any other reason) can enter their zip code on this link to find our partner food pantries located near you: FIND A FOOD PANTRY. Anyone outside our service area can find their local food bank here: FOOD BANKS BEYOND CENC. Citizens financial contributions via the link is a great way to help ensure we and our Partner Agencies can meet the need.”