OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) —Oklahomans who rely on SNAP food benefits will receive those benefits a little earlier amid the partial federal government shutdown.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has instructed the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to issue February SNAP food benefits to eligible recipients by Jan. 20 as the government shutdown continues.
“This was welcome news to all of us at DHS as I know it will be for the more than 610,000 Oklahomans who depend on this program to help feed their families each month,” said DHS Director Ed Lake. “We have had numerous discussions with USDA officials over the past few days concerning details of this plan and coordinating our approaches. I have authorized voluntary overtime for our SNAP workforce that has been working through the weekend processing SNAP case renewals and applications already in the queue.”
Officials say SNAP recipients who already receive benefits will automatically receive their February benefits on their EBT cards.
“It is important for our customers to understand, if they receive their benefits early, they will not receive any other SNAP benefits in February so they should budget accordingly,” said DHS Adult and Family Services Director Patrick Klein.
Officials say SNAP recipients should use their benefits as normal and not rush out to grocery stores all at once, even though funds will be available early.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and its more than 300 partners are ready to step in and provide food assistance for SNAP recipients and anyone affected by the shutdown.
“The ripple effect of the shutdown is being felt now and will only worsen as it continues,” said Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of the Regional Food Bank. “At the Regional Food Bank, we see firsthand how SNAP helps Oklahomans living with hunger.”
SNAP recipients who want to check their case status and eligibility are encouraged to go to DHS’ website.
More than 800,000 Oklahomans received SNAP benefits in 2018. Most are children, seniors and people with disabilities, including disabled veterans.