Food stamp benefits will continue through February, USDA announces

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( — Food stamp recipients will receive their benefits in February even if the government shutdown lingers into the next month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.

A plan announced by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue includes working with states to load benefits onto recipients’ cards by Jan. 20. That date is within the deadline for the government to distribute benefits under the existing continuing resolution.

The department will pay $5.1 billion to cover the full February bill for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the official name for food stamps. Some 38 million Americans receive food stamps each month.

SNAP benefits were paid in full in January, despite the government shutdown that began Dec. 22.

In a statement, the USDA said it would be reaching out with states on how the early issuance of SNAP benefits for February will be handled. States have until Jan. 20 to make the request and implement early issuance. Once that’s done, the benefits will be accessible on recipients’ cards.

Additional funding will also be made available to fund child nutrition programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.

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