Sonora, CA – As the government shutdown lingers on, Tuolumne County is alerting those enrolled in the local CalFresh food stamp program that February’s benefits will be coming early and after that funding could be suspended.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, which is also referred to in California as CalFresh, is run through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is one of the federal departments that is impacted. USDA officials relay that there is no benefit funding allotted after January 20, prompting the department to direct states to dole out February’s food benefits early. Tuolumne County Social Services Program Manager Laurie Darby details, “We really need them to understand that when they receive them in January, actually they’re February benefits. Some of them are going to be getting them three weeks early. So, we really need them to make them last through the end of February because depending on how long the shutdown continues, we don’t know when this is going to be remedied.”
CalFresh February benefits will be issued Wednesday, January 16th for most clients, which is the first early issuance in California’s history, according to state health and human services officials. They share that it was a $550 million undertaking by the state and county human services agencies along with automation system staff that, in less than a week, got these funds ready for release. Darby relays that there are almost 4,400 clients enrolled in the county with no income single households receiving $192 dollars a month, which adds up to $642 for a four person household. If the shutdown goes past next month, Darby relays, “If there is no food stamp allotment then we will be referring people to the local food banks and places like that. We don’t have any other solutions right now. We’ve contacted all of the food banks and let everybody know. We’ve made phone calls to all of our recipients letting them know what is going on.”
If the shutdown ends before February, Darby says clients can go back to the regular allotment schedule.
State officials provided these CalFresh early issuance details:
- Beginning Wednesday, January 16, 2019, most CalFresh clients will begin receiving their February benefits on their EBT cards. Note that these are not extra benefits – they are regular benefits for February and customers receiving benefits early should plan for these benefits to last through the month of February.
- Existing CalFresh recipients who are required to recertify their eligibility in the month of January and who complete their recertification after January 15, 2019, will have their benefits issued on or after February 1, 2019, drawing upon limited federal reserve funds.
- Individuals and families who apply for benefits after January 15, 2019, will also have their February benefits issued on or after February 1, 2019, drawing upon limited federal reserve funds.
- Despite the federal shutdown, county offices are and will remain open for new enrollments and case management for existing customers without service disruptions.