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What the Government Shutdown Means for SNAP

As we move in to what will surely be the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history,  we know many organizations and SNAP households are very worried about the impact of the shutdown on SNAP for February. Our main message at this point is: Don't panic, and stay tuned for additional details. We will continue to update this webpage with information as quickly as we can.


USDA has directed states to issue February SNAP benefits early – by January 20th. Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) is doing everything it can to get SNAP households their February SNAP with as little confusion as possible and will share information with us once its plans are finalized. Most importantly, we all need to make sure SNAP participants understand the upcoming issuance of benefits is their February SNAP arriving early. We do not yet know what will happen with March benefits if the shutdown continues.


To better understand this complicated situation, check out this overview from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and USDA's January 8 announcement


In the meantime - for all SNAP households who are concerned:

  • DHS is working on it, and a plan is being made
  • Pay close attention to messages from DHS in the coming weeks
  • The shutdown has no impact on SNAP eligibility rules, the ability of retailers to accept SNAP, or on DHS's issuance of cash assistance benefits (TANF and GA)
  • Those newly in need of SNAP (such as some furloughed workers) should apply as soon as possible. Our understanding is that USDA will provide states funds to issue February benefits to newly eligible applicants (even if they apply after Jan. 20) *Again, make sure you check back for updates and confirmation


Thank you for helping us spread the word and looking out for those who are struggling with hunger. 


In Solidarity,


Kathy Fisher

Policy Director

The Coalition Against Hunger