Jan. 9 (UPI) — Food stamp recipients won’t miss their February benefits even if the partial government shutdown continues, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday night.
The agency found a way to fund the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for 38 million Americans without new appropriations from Congress, the agency said in a news release.
January’s payments went out although the USDA’s funding expired on Dec. 21. The shutdown of 25 percent of the government involves several agencies, including USDA. The other agencies are fully funded through September as President Donald Trump is demanding funding for a border barrier along Mexico, which Democrats oppose.
“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working with the administration on this solution. It works and is legally sound,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in the news release. “And we want to assure states, and SNAP recipients, that the benefits for February will be provided.
And Perdue told reporters that the agency will look into options for March.
“We’ve provided an additional month of SNAP benefits with this solution, I believe that gives Congress ample time to act,” he told reporters.
The child nutrition programs, which include school meals and after-school programs, are funded through March.
“Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone,’ ” Purdue said. “With this solution, we’ve got the ‘Feed Everyone’ part handled. And I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the ‘Do Right’ part as well.”
USDA also is contacting states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February, similar to how funds are issued early during natural disasters.
Brandon Lipps, the Food and Nutrition Service administrator, told reporters they expect to pay out the full $4.8 billion in benefits for next month without tapping into the $3 billion contingency fund for SNAP.
“It’s just too difficult to buy fresh food with just the little bit of money we have from his paychecks,” Danielle Baker, a mother of four in Oklahoma, told ABC News about her husband’s pay.