Because of the partial federal government shutdown, several states will be issuing food benefits early for February, loading them onto clients' Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards on or before Jan. 20.
City officials in Philadelphia issued the following notice Wednesday: "Due to the federal government shutdown, Pennsylvania is issuing February's SNAP benefits early. Benefits you would normally get in February will instead be issued on January 18. This is not a bonus! You won't get more SNAP until March at the earliest."
In New Jersey, anyone who received a SNAP benefit in January and is scheduled to receive SNAP in February will receive the benefit on their Families First card on January 17.
The state also cautions recipients that this will be the only benefit payout for the entire month of February, so recipients should budget with this information in mind.
The more than 136,000 Delawareans who are clients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive their February benefits by Sunday, Jan. 20, said Ray Fitzgerald, director of the Department of Health and Social Services' Division of Social Services (DSS), which manages the food benefit program in Delaware.
DSS typically staggers food benefits between the second and the 17th days of the month.
"To be clear, these early food benefits are not additional or bonus benefits," said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, DHSS Cabinet Secretary. "Because clients will have two months' worth of food dollars on their EBT cards this month, we urge them to plan and budget wisely. It is important for them to use January benefits in January, and February's benefits in February. Our hope is to be back on the regular schedule beginning in March."
Clients will be notified of the early issuance through letters to each household, contacts through retail outlets and community partners, social media posts, and other means.
Fitzgerald said DSS is working with grocery and convenience stores to alert them of the early issuance of February benefits so they can stock additional food items and increase staffing as needed.
The division also is working to get out the message to community partners, including legislators, State Service Centers, the Food Bank of Delaware, senior centers, places of worship and other organizations.
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Several states, including Pa., N.J. and Del., are issuing SNAP benefits early amid government shutdown