What does the end of the government shutdown mean for me?

Woman holding baby at food pantry
January 29, 2019
by The Feeding America Government Relations Team

We know many of you have questions about how the end of the government shutdown affects individuals and families that are struggling to put food on the table. We looked at food assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women Infant Children (WIC) program, and other federal nutrition programs communities are using to answer your questions.

I am receiving SNAP benefits. What does the end of the government shutdown mean for me?

Current SNAP participants can be confident that USDA will be able to issue full March SNAP benefits starting March 1. You received full SNAP benefits for February, distributed by states before January 20th. However, this is an earlier timeline than normal and means individuals may have 40-55 days before getting March SNAP benefits. We know this is a long gap for SNAP participants and are encouraging all participating SNAP recipients to plan their purchases carefully to help make sure benefits will help meet food needs through the end of February.

What if I applied for SNAP during January when I received no federal paycheck, and will receive a paycheck again in February? What should I do?

If you applied for SNAP benefits during the shutdown and were found eligible, you do not need to repay any benefits. However, SNAP participants are required to report changes of income and circumstances according to your state’s rules. Contact your SNAP office for more details.

I am a federal worker who needs food assistance. Can I get SNAP benefits? Can I go to a food bank?

If you fit all eligibility criteria for SNAP you may receive SNAP benefits. In addition, food banks are opening their doors to accept furloughed federal workers, contractors and other individuals impacted by the shutdown who need assistance. Although there are rules that prohibit federal employees from accepting gives from the general public while they are completing official duties related to their federal employment, federal workers and contractors are allowed to seek and receive charitable assistance from nonprofits and other organizations providing assistance to community members.

I have been impacted by the government shutdown and am not a federal worker. Can I get SNAP benefits? Can I go to a food bank? 

As mentioned above, food banks are opening their doors for furloughed federal workers, contractors, and other individuals impacted by the shutdown who need assistance. However, if you do not fall into this category, but are still affected by the shutdown (i.e someone who works in a federal worker area and has had hours cut) if you fit all eligibility criteria for SNAP you may apply to receive SNAP benefits.

I am a parent of a child getting school lunch, or I applied to receive free or reduced-price school lunches during the shutdown. What changes now that the shutdown is over?

Your child will receive meals. School meals programs and afterschool meal programs will be funded through March and likely into April. If your child was already participating in the National School Lunch Program before the shutdown, there should be no changes in your child’s participation. If you applied and received benefits for free or reduced price lunch for your child during the shutdown, contact your child’s school if you have questions about program rules and need to update your household information.

I am a new parent who receives WIC benefits. Will there be any changes in benefits now that the shutdown has ended?

No interruption in WIC benefits is expected. WIC is funded for February and March now that the shutdown is over, and WIC clinics remain open.

Are any changes expected to Meals on Wheels and other senior nutrition programs now that the shutdown has ended?

Meals on Wheels benefits and CSFP senior food box deliveries are expected to continue for participants through March and April.

I participate in the FDPIR program. What does the end of the government shutdown mean for me?

FDPIR food will be delivered for February and March, and funding to operate the program is expected to be provided to states for February and March.

Feeding America will continue our commitment to addressing hunger during this challenging time to ensure those struggling are able to put food on the table. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Feeding America Government Relations team at [email protected]

Note: This blog was updated January 29th to reflect that the government reopened after Congress and the President reached a deal on January 25th.