January’s partial federal government shutdown continues to impact First State agencies, as the Department of Health and Social Serivices (DHSS) announces a change to April food assistance.
The state Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) plans to issue next month’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, to all clients on April 13 — rather than staggering them over a three week period as usual.
This is to reduce continuing effects of the “SNAP gap” caused by the partial government shutdown.
February SNAP benefits were issued weeks early because of the shutdown, creating a span of more than six weeks before the next set of benefits was loaded to EBT cards on March 4.
Officials changed the issuance date in March to shorten the gap, which would have been longer for some families who usually receive benefits the 22nd or 23rd day of each month. The Food Bank of Delaware also held several large mobile food pantries last month to help bridge the gap.
The mid-April issuance date helps shorten what would be a longer gap for some families next month— while transitioning back to the normal, staggered issuance schedule in May.
“It made sense to issue the February and March benefits when we did,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, DHSS cabinet secretary, in a statement. “Now with this one-day issuance in April, we can further limit the number of days between the monthly release of food benefits to our clients.”
Officials say food retailers have been alerted to the change for April. The state is trying to notify its 136,000 SNAP clients through letters, social media and community partners.