Oh, SNAP: Food stamps continue through February amid shutdown

Telegraph photo by GRACE PECCI Volunteers Chris Dunhom, left, and Carol Marcus sort non-perishables at the Corpus Christi Food Pantry in Nashua on Tuesday. Executive Director Kay Golden said the pantry has been receiving calls from people in the community with concerns about the partial shutdown of the federal government affecting their food stamps.

NASHUA – More than 40,000 New Hampshire families depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to obtain food, but funding for SNAP expired with the Dec. 21 partial shutdown of the federal government.

This has created uncertainty and despair among some who receive these benefits, as volunteers at local food pantries report hearing concerns from members of the community.

However, officials with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services have worked with their counterparts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure the food stamp program will be funded for an additional 30 days.

“Our state employees have done remarkable work in a short amount of time to ensure that the impact of the partial federal government shut down on New Hampshire is as minimal as possible,” Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday. “Their efforts will ensure those who rely on the SNAP program will have access to those services through February.”

“My administration will continue to do everything we can to help minimize as much as possible the impact the dysfunction of Washington has on New Hampshire,” Sununu added.

New Hampshire SNAP recipients will have access to their February benefits on Sunday. Beneficiaries are advised to plan accordingly, as these are not additional benefits — they are the regular February supply.

“Payments will be disbursed on Jan. 20, but it is critical for recipients to understand that this is their February allotment and not a supplemental payment, so they must budget accordingly,” New Hampshire DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said.

Officials said more than 200 DHHS employees worked throughout this past weekend to process applications and redeterminations submitted by thousands of beneficiaries. Staff members contacted beneficiaries to advise them of the early issuance of February food stamp benefits and encouraged them to submit their requests as quickly as possible.

Employees also conducted interviews with beneficiaries who were scheduled for interviews at a district office in the coming weeks, to complete administrative requirements as soon as possible to ensure those beneficiaries receive their SNAP benefits without interruption.

“The USDA has identified a way to make funding available to continue the SNAP program in February, and SNAP is important to ensuring the nutritional needs of beneficiaries and their families are met,” Meyers said. “We will continue to communicate with USDA to learn more about the continued availability of SNAP benefits after February.”

Beneficiaries with specific questions about their cases should contact DHHS at 1-800-852-3345, ext. 9700. For more information on SNAP, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dfa/foodstamps/.