Pennsylvania Announces Plans to Maintain Food Security Programs Through February Despite Federal Government Shutdown

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Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced that February benefits for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will be dispersed on January 18, 2019, and will be available for use by January 19, 2019. The early payment follows an announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notifying states that benefits will be fully funded for the month of February, but benefits must be paid early.

“SNAP is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Without it, 1.8 million Pennsylvanians would have greater trouble affording food for themselves and their families,” said Secretary Miller. “This early payment allows us to get SNAP recipients their benefits for February, but they will have to make this payment last for an undefined period as the shutdown continues.”

On January 8, 2019, DHS received notice from the USDA that February SNAP benefits will be fully funded, but that these benefits needed to be issued by January 20. DHS worked closely with its vendors and will be able to issue the February benefits to electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards on January 18. This early payment is SNAP recipients’ February benefit and will be the only benefit payment SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. Recipients will not receive a payment on their regularly scheduled February payment date. DHS is sending a letter and/or email to SNAP recipients to notify them of this change.

Payments beyond February will be determined based on the availability of USDA funds. DHS is awaiting information from the USDA on plans for March benefits should the partial federal government shutdown continue.

“The partial federal government shutdown has real implications for millions of people in Pennsylvania and around the country who use SNAP to keep food on the table,” said Secretary Miller. “Changes in the way people get their benefits and uncertainty regarding future benefits creates confusion and concern that should be avoidable. The federal government must come to a solution so people who already face food insecurity do not continue to be caught in the middle of a situation that they did not create.”

DHS will continue to process applications for all benefits during the shutdown. Recipients should continue to report changes and submit any semi-annual reviews or renewals they receive during this period to not risk an interruption of their benefits in the future.

Clients with questions about their benefits can contact their local County Assistance Office or can call the statewide customer service center at 1-877-395-8930. Clients who reside in Philadelphia should call 1-215-560-7226.

SOURCE: news release

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