What The Longest Government Shutdown Means For Idaho Food Stamp Beneficiaries

Jan 17, 2019

The ongoing federal government shutdown means folks who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, will have to plan ahead through February.


Niki Forbing-Orr is with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and she wants to reassure folks who receive SNAP benefits about one thing: 

“Everyone who is eligible for SNAP benefits in February will receive their benefits,” she says. 

But because of gridlock in D.C., the department will issue February benefits a month early, on January 20. That means people will have to budget carefully to make sure their benefits don’t run out before the end of February. Forbing-Orr says they’re in close contact with federal officials as the shutdown continues. 

“We’ve not received any guidance or information about the March benefits yet. We are hopeful that the federal government will reopen before that time.” 

SNAP benefits are administered through the Department of Agriculture, funded by Congress through the Farm Bill. But as President Trump and Congressional Democrats remain at an impasse over funding for a southern border wall, the benefits are running out. The shutdown has been going on since December 22. 

“You know in my time with the department — I’ve been here ... seven years — [and] this is the first time that we’ve done anything like this," she says.

Forbing-Orr is asking people to donate to their local foodbank to help families make ends meet during the shutdown. 

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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