In this file:
· USDA Announces Plan to Protect SNAP Participants’ Access to SNAP in February
· Food stamps, other federal nutrition programs, threatened by prolonged shutdown
· USDA Finds Loophole to Fund SNAP for Feb.
· Factbox: Impact on U.S. government widens on 18th day of shutdown
USDA Announces Plan to Protect SNAP Participants’ Access to SNAP in February
Source: USDA Office of Communications
Jan 8, 2019
(Washington, D.C., January 8, 2019) – At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a plan to ensure that low-income Americans have access to the nutrition they need, despite the inability of Congress to pass an appropriations bill that safely secures our borders. The plan provides full benefits for participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for the month of February.
When USDA’s funding expired on December 21, 2018, SNAP benefits for January were fully funded. States have already received that money and have been distributing it to participants. Since the lapse in appropriations, USDA has been reviewing options available to the department for funding February benefits without an additional appropriation from Congress.
“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working with the Administration on this solution. It works and is legally sound. And we want to assure states, and SNAP recipients, that the benefits for February will be provided,” Perdue said. “Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone.’ 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.”
To protect SNAP participants’ access for February, USDA is working with states to issue February benefits earlier than usual. USDA will rely on a provision of the just-expired Continuing Resolution (CR), which provides an appropriation for programs like SNAP and child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations within 30 days of the CR’s expiration. USDA will be reaching out to states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. States will have until January 20th to request and implement the early issuance. Once the early issuances are made, the February benefits will be made available to SNAP participants at that time.
USDA has also ensured the other major nutrition assistance programs have sufficient funding to continue operations into February. The child nutrition programs, including school meals and after-school programs have funding available to continue operations through March. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has prior year funding which USDA will begin to provide states this week to facilitate February benefits. Other FNS programs, which provide critical assistance to our nation’s food banks, the elderly, and Tribal nations, may continue to utilize grant funding provided prior to the lapse in appropriations. Commodity deliveries to those programs will continue.
Nutrition Assistance Programs under a Lapse in Appropriations
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
· USDA will use the authority under the last Continuing Resolution to issue February benefits. The Continuing Resolution that expired December 21, 2018 provided an appropriation for programs like SNAP and Child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations during the 30 day-period following the expiration of the Act.
· States will need to take action to issue February benefits on or before January 20, 2019. We will be reaching out to States to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. States will have until January 20 to implement this early issuance.
· Once these early issuances are made, the February benefits will be made available to SNAP participants at that time. SNAP monthly issuance for February is estimated to be approximately $4.8 billion and State administrative expense (SAE) is estimated at about $350 million for a total need of approximately $5.1 billion.
· This approach requires careful coordination. FNS has noticed States to hold their issuance files. States would, instead, implement an early issuance strategy, providing February benefits to SNAP participants on or before January 20, 2019. We will be working with States individually on how this approach is executed, in order to issue benefits to eligible households in the most efficient and equitable manner possible.
Child Nutrition Programs
For these programs, including school meals and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, States already have funding to cover CN program operations for the month of January (approximately $2.1 billion) on the basis of the last continuing resolution.
This week, we will provide an additional two months’ worth of funding, consistent with the standard practice of funding these programs on a quarterly basis.
Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Programs
· For WIC, FNS has identified resources to cover projected State expenditures for February. The agency will allocate at least $248 million to State agencies this week, and we have identified an additional $350 million in unspent prior year funds to allocate at a later date. A total of approximately $600 million in funding will be provided to WIC State agencies. We will continue to work with States to make resources available to the extent possible.
· For the WIC Farmers’ Market (FMNP) and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs (SFMNP), FNS does not anticipate significant operational impacts as they are seasonal benefit programs with annual grant funds.
· For the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), food deliveries planned for February will continue. Due to the lapse, States have not received their 2019 caseload assignments, so CSFP-participating States must operate at 2018’s caseload levels. Similarly, states have received no additional administrative funds since the lapse, and none can be made available until the lapse ends.
· For The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), food deliveries planned for February (including entitlement, bonus and trade mitigation) will continue. States have received no additional administrative funds since the lapse, and none can be made available until the lapse ends.
· For the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), food deliveries planned for February will continue. FDPIR programs have administrative funding through January 31 and are expected to operate the program.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
Food stamps, other federal nutrition programs, threatened by prolonged shutdown
By: Ana Radelat, The CT Mirror
The Connecticut News Project - January 8, 2019
Washington — With no end to the federal shutdown in sight, anti-hunger advocates are becoming anxious about the fate of federal nutrition programs like food stamps, school lunches, and other programs for the poor that are run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA, which is one of the federal agencies shuttered as a result of the partial shutdown, has told Connecticut officials it has funding for these programs through January, but if the shutdown persists the agency might not be able to continue to subsidize the programs through the entire month of February.
Besides funding the popular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides food stamps to more than 384,000 individuals in 215,000 Connecticut households, the USDA is responsible for several other, smaller nutrition programs that help feed the elderly and pregnant women and children.
About 2,480 low-income Connecticut residents age 60 and older receive packages of canned fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, bottled juice, powdered milk, cheese, peanut butter and other food items through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
Another program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance at no cost, usually through food banks and food pantries. In 2018, Connecticut received about 6.6 million pounds of food from this USDA program.
The USDA also administers the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children that provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant women, new mothers and infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Federal money for WIC has already dried up, and the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which administers the program, did not respond to questions about the program’s status.
Federal funding for school breakfast and lunch programs may also be halted...
USDA Finds Loophole to Fund SNAP for Feb.
By John Herath, Farm Journal Media, News Director
via AgWeb - January 8, 2019
As the partial government shutdown goes well into its third week, the budget impasse threatens food stamps for thousands. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday announced the agency had found a loophole to continue funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for one more month.
“We will rely on a provision of the continuing resolution that just expired that allows the federal government to make obligated payments within 30 days of the expiration of the CR or continuing resolution,” Perdue explained in a call with reporters. “We will be reaching out the states to instruct them to request early issuance of SNAP benefits for February. States will have until January the 20th to implement the early issuance.”
The 30-day window for obligated payments on the expired continuing resolution ends on Jan. 21, so states must request their funds early in order to receive SNAP payments for February.
Perdue said there is currently no plan in place to provide SNAP benefits beyond the end of February...
Factbox: Impact on U.S. government widens on 18th day of shutdown
January 8, 2019
(Reuters) - A shutdown of about a quarter of the U.S. government reached its 18th day on Tuesday, with lawmakers and the White House divided over Republican President Donald Trump’s demand for money for a border wall ahead of his prime-time address to push the project.
The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, is the 19th since the mid-1970s, although most have been brief. This one now ranks as the second-longest, with Trump saying it could continue for months or years, even as he said he hoped it was resolved within days.
Border security negotiations last weekend between Vice President Mike Pence and congressional staff yielded no progress on a deal as Democrats continued to object to the wall.
The current shutdown has not affected three-quarters of the government, including the Department of Defense and the Postal Service, which have secure funding. But 800,000 employees from the departments of Homeland Security and Transportation, among others, have been furloughed or are working without pay.
Private contractors working for many government agencies are also without pay and private companies that rely on business from federal workers or other consumers - such as national park visitors - are affected across the country.
Here is what is happening around the federal government.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday that U.S. farmers could have more time to apply for aid aimed at mitigating any harm during ongoing trade disputes with China, among others, adding that farmers who had already applied would continue to receive payments.
USDA has also delayed several key reports on major domestic and world crops that were due to be released on Friday, Jan. 11.
Funding for food aid for low-income Americans, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is expected to run out at the end of January and could lapse next month unless a deal is reached, according to media reports.
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