Arkansas to issue February food stamps early due to shutdown
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- The Arkansas Department of Human Services says it will distribute February's food stamp benefits early as a result of the partial government shutdown.
The agency says those eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, will begin receiving the February benefits on Jan. 17. DHS says this is not an additional payment and that recipients won't receive another payment until March, if the program is funded by then.
Last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told states to issue the February benefits early.
Arkansas Foodbank CEO Rhonda Sanders said the level of concern of over the government shutdown continues to escalate.
"We've progressed closer and closer to that other paycheck not coming, to those benefits running out. We're becoming more and more concerned," Sanders said.
Sanders cautions SNAP members to use their funds wisely as Arkansas Foodbank works to spread the word about the early benefits through social media, radios ads and coordination with more than 300 agencies across the state.
"We're just trying to inform them in every way that we can so that they know to ration these benefits throughout the month of February. Do not go out and spend them all immediately because you'll be struggling then," Sanders said.
The Arkansas Foodbank website serves as a resource for individuals to learn more about the impact of the government shutdown on SNAP benefits.
Nearly 40 million Americans are enrolled in the program, including more than 150,000 households in Arkansas. DHS says about $40 million in SNAP assistance is distributed to eligible participants in Arkansas each month.