February SNAP benefits available Thursday will need to last for next six weeks

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Social Services is issuing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits for February early. Officials are advising recipients to budget carefully.

In an announcement made earlier this week, SNAP recipients who received a benefit in January and are eligible for ongoing benefits in February will have their February benefits available on their EBT card Jan. 17, 2019. This will affect an estimated 231,000 households.

“This is not a bonus payment. SNAP recipients will not receive another benefit in February, even if the federal government reopens,” DSS advised. "Households are strongly encouraged to carefully plan and budget their benefits accordingly.

February SNAP benefits available Thursday will need to last for next six weeks.

The group Homeless No More works with dozens of at-risk families throughout the Midlands, providing resources to help them get back on their feet. Many of these families also receive SNAP benefits, and now the president and CEO Lila Anna Sauls is offering some suggestions on ways for families to make those early benefits last through the month of February.

“If you can, make one trip a week, and think ahead – menu plan. The other part of it is – especially if you have access to community programs – if you can, take advantage of a community program once or twice a week. That could help you budget wise if you get into a bind towards the end of February,” she said.

Sauls also says that now that we’re beginning to see the effects of the government shutdown, it’s time for community members to step up and help out.

“This is not something that just the families who are receiving SNAP benefits need to be aware of, but also community members and those who know people who are receiving SNAP benefits need to be aware of. For example, children who are in schools, teachers and other volunteers need to watch for children who may be hungry because they are coming from housing situations where if a family runs out of food after three weeks, no one is going to necessarily know,” Sauls said.

DSS has been instructed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue to accept and process new applications and recertifications as normal.

The majority of recipients whose SNAP benefits are due for recertification this month will not be included in the Jan. 17 issuances. Any SNAP recipient whose recertification is approved after Jan. 16 will receive their February benefits on their normal monthly issuance date in February.

All program rules, including verification of income, are not waived because of this early issuance process.

If SNAP participants have questions, they can contact their local office or call DSS Connect at 1-800-616-1309.

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