SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The impact of the partial government shutdown is trickling down to a program that provides food for Utah families that may otherwise go without.
Before the shutdown, the SNAP program was funded through February 2019.
But, the state is required to distribute all the February funds within the next couple of days.
That’s why local organizations are urging recipients to pace themselves.
Day 26 of the government shutdown and every day that passes adds to the longest in our country’s history.
“It is entirely unacceptable that low-income families are bearing the brunt of this government shutdown. The vast majority of those that receive SNAP are children, seniors and people with disabilities,” said Gina Cornia with Utahns Against Hunger.
More than 200,000 Utahns, in about 75,000 households depend on those benefits to put food on the table.
This month, they’ll be getting more than usual.
“Starting tomorrow morning, those benefits will be loaded to their EBT card with the goal of having all February benefits available on the card no later than Sunday,” said Dale Ownby with the Department of Workforce Services.
Local retailers have a plan in place to handle the potential influx of spending.
“I want to be clear, we do not anticipate there being empty shelves out there in the grocery stores,” said Dave Davis with the Utah Retail Merchants Association.
But, they are asking recipients to plan ahead.
“In some cases, these dollars are intended to sustain you through the 15th of March, and we would encourage SNAP recipients to pace themselves in the spending of these dollars,” Davis said.
And, with no end in sight, charitable groups, already feeling the crunch, are worried the shutdown could outlast the funding going out now.
“We are an emergency food assistance program, meaning we are here to help in time of crisis and we are here to help, but we aren’t here to take on the full responsibility,” said Ginette Bott with the Utah Food Bank.
The Utah Food Bank says it has already seen an increase in demand from furloughed federal workers in Ogden.
Also, the Department of Workforce Services is still encouraging people to apply for SNAP benefits through next month.