Food stamps issued early

Fed shutdown is the reason

WARREN — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for February were issued last week, and local officials are cautioning recipients to budget their use.

What it means is, as of Jan. 16, those who receive SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps, may have had two months’ worth of food dollars on their account.

The benefits have to last people through February and into March, explained John Gargano, director of Trumbull County Job and Family Services.

Gargano is encouraging SNAP recipients to make sure they have the proper amount they’re supposed to receive on their card, and he stressed the importance of not spending it all immediately.

“Just be cautious in how they spend their money, or funds, on the card for their needs,” Gargano said.

In information provided by the JFS, no food dollars will be added in February. “The early food dollars are meant to help with next month’s food,” a release stated

Gargano said should those receiving SNAP benefits run out of food, they should “… look towards the pantries for some assistance.”

A provision in federal law allows for the release of an additional month’s worth of SNAP benefits within 30 days of a partial government shutdown, which started Dec. 21.

“USDA will rely on a provision of the just-expired Continuing Resolution (CR), which provides an appropriation for programs like SNAP and Child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations within 30 days of the CR’s expiration,” reads a release on the USDA website.

The county JFS will be releasing the February benefits between Jan. 16-30.

“Effective Jan. 31, the county will not be able to approve food assistance benefits until further notice from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services,” the county release reads.

Jennifer Matthews Roach, of Champion, is one who says the government shutdown has her worried.

“I am a 52-year-old woman on disability due to a brain tumor, and we get food stamps,” Roach said. “I worked as an office manager for a doctor until I could not longer work.”

Being on disability means she’s on a fixed income and without food stamps, she and her husband, also on disability, wouldn’t make it each month, she said.

“As it is, we run out of money by the third week of the month,” Roach said. “Food stamps is how we pay for all our food.”

Roach is just one of the approximately 17,100 cases with the Trumbull County JFS.

Sterling Mayle, of Warren, and her family are also affected by the shutdown. She said that while her husband works, they do need help from time to time.

“We work and rely on stamps to help us during the month,” Mayle said. “We’re living paycheck to paycheck right now so now we’re going to have to cut other bills in half to afford grocery bills or go to food banks.”

Roach said she’s not sure of their options should the shutdown extend from what has been a month-long stalemate between the president and congress.

“There is no savings, no ability to work, no way to cut back on an already strained budget,” Roach said. “I have family, but they have young families of their own to take care of. We are scared, truthfully.

“I’ve worked since I was 16. I didn’t ask to get sick and lose my ability to provide for myself. And to see what has been happening to this country sickens me. This shutdown needs to end.”


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