SNAP benefits available for February, beyond that DHS unsure

Posted at 12:03 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 12:09:19-05

BALTIMORE — Maryland residents who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to feed themselves and their families will still receive their February SNAP benefits despite the current federal government shutdown persisting into its fourth week, the Maryland Department of Human Services announced Wednesday.

“Like the rest of the nation, our state has not been immune to this unprecedented situation,” said DHS Secretary Lourdes Padilla in a statement. “However, DHS and the State of Maryland remain prepared to tackle the challenges that face us and we are committed to providing ongoing support to our vulnerable residents and local communities.”

On Jan. 11, the state DHS announced it would be able to provide next month’s SNAP benefits, but that those benefits would be dispersed early, making them available on or before January 20. DHS employees are making efforts to let resident’s know of this change in benefit delivery, the agency said. One average, roughly 650,000 Marylanders rely on SNAP benefits each month, representing roughly $75 million worth of Food Supplement Program spending. Both the SNAP and FSP programs are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, which distributes funding to the states each month.

To help explain to residents the full scope of their SNAP and FSP benefits, and how best to both obtain and utilize them, the DHS has created a comprehensive page on its website to collect such information. Visitors can fin community food resources by county, see frequently asked questions, get a copy of the SNAP/FSP customer letter, and see contact information for local departments of social services that can provide additional information.

The federal government has not appropriated SNAP funding beyond February, the DHS said, a status that will remain in limbo as the government shutdown continues. This could present additional hardship on those who rely on such benefits. The DHS will continue to try to assist and inform state residents in need of these programs. Additional information can be found through the agency’s website, as well as it’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Our primary concern is supporting and providing relief to vulnerable Marylanders during this unpredictable time,” said Padilla. “We continue to explore the options available to the state in order to best support our residents and local communities.”