Despite Shutdown, USDA Authorizes SNAP Funding through February

Despite the ongoing partial government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday announced that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would be funded through February. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated that USDA will be working with states to issue February benefits earlier than usual. States have until January 20 to request and receive these early SNAP benefits; a provision of the recently-expired funding bill allows certain programs, including SNAP, to request additional funding within 30 days of the bill’s expiration.

Recall, USDA’s funding expired on December 21, 2018, when Congress failed to reauthorize its spending authority. SNAP benefits for January, however, were already fully funded. USDA also indicated this week that funding for other major nutrition assistance programs have sufficient funding to continue operations into February. Child nutrition programs, including the school meals and after-school programs, have funding to continue operations through March, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has prior year funding to ensure benefits through February.

While the USDA assured uninterrupted nutrition benefits into February, it remains to be seen what actions the Trump Administration may take to continue benefits as the partial federal government shutdown enters its fourth week tomorrow. In an analysis released this week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) projected dire impacts to state SNAP operations and low-income households if the shutdown continues into February.