While the partial government shutdown is technically over, the poorest individuals in the United States continue to suffer from the aftershock. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the SNAP program paid out the February benefits early before the contract expired and they lost the necessary funding to do so.
Unfortunately, releasing the February food stamp benefits early – not too many days before the government shutdown ended – may have created more problems than it solved.
Some recipients, unaware they had received both January and February benefits, overspent and improperly budgeted, causing them to run out long before the month of March arrives.
According to NPR, some states, such as Pennsylvania, are in crisis mode as their residents struggle to keep food in their homes.
Daniel Davenport, who is 45-years-old and does have a part time job, relies on food stamps to make ends meet. In January, the $182 he is used to getting every month was surprisingly loaded to his SNAP card twice. According to Davenport, the extra payment felt like a bonus even though it was actually intended to buy two months' worth of groceries.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture – who is in charge of the SNAP program – made the decision to release February payments early because they didn't know when the shutdown would end, and they didn't want people to go without their benefits.
For Davenport, and many others, they have already spent most of their February stamps to keep their pantries stocked. Unfortunately, some have anywhere from five to six weeks before they will see another food stamp payout.NPR goes on to report that the other big issue that is causing so many to panic is the end of the government shutdown is believed to just be temporary. If the government shuts back down this week, as many expect it will, the food stamp benefits for the month of March could be at risk.
This presents a problem because it would put people at five and six weeks with no food stamp benefits and no sign of when they would receive more.
Secretary Teresa Miller of Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services is encouraging residents who are not struggling financially or suffering from the shutdown to consider donating food items to local food banks to help feed those who were hit so hard by the shutdown.Miller went on to explain that she isn't just dishing the advice out, but also doing her part to chip in to make sure the residents of her state do not go hungry.
"I wrote a check that was a little higher than what I normally write, because I'm concerned about people this month," she explained.
According to Miller, the SNAP program all across the U.S. did send out letters to explain why people received two payments instead of one. Unfortunately, the letters did not come until after the payments were received and some reported never receiving the letters at all.Technically, federal officials have told states they have the green light to release March benefits early, the same way they released February benefits. Many people – such as Miller – believe releasing more benefits early is just going to cause more problems with people not having food to continue.
"It's incredibly frustrating. If another shutdown occurs, this situation is only going to get worse for the people caught in the middle," Miller added.