The federal government is now in its third week of a partial shutdown as President Donald Trump and Democrats have failed to reach a compromise on border security funding. With no end in sight, Americans relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help feed their families could lose their benefits come February.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP at the federal level, is one of the agencies unfunded during the partial government shutdown. Although SNAP is automatically renewed, it has not been allocated funding from Congress beyond January. Congress has appropriated $3 billion in emergency funds for SNAP distribution, but that would not cover all of February's obligations.
In September 2018, the last month for which data is available, $4.7 billion in SNAP benefits were disbursed throughout every state. If the shutdown continues through March, there will be no remaining funding for SNAP, endangering food security for millions of Americans.
According to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 42 million Americans received SNAP benefits in 2017. More than 68 percent of participants were in families with children, and more than 44 percent were in working families.
SNAP is not the only federal program in danger: the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are receiving no money at all during the shutdown, CBS News reported.
The USDA said those programs "can continue to operate at the State and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available.”
Families receiving both SNAP and WIC benefits will likely struggle the most in February as funding runs out.