Nearly 600,000 Hoosiers received SNAP benefits on early issuance

INDIANAPOLIS – Another month of nutrition assistance funds have gone to Hoosier families but it’s unclear when more money will go to people who rely on it.

Due to the partial federal government shutdown, the United States Department of Agriculture told Indiana recently it must issue Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the month of February on Wednesday, January 16.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry said there are approximately 585,000 Hoosiers who rely on the program to help feed their families.

“All February benefits were dispersed on the 16th and there will be no disbursement in February,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, the organization’s executive director.

She added many recipients of the benefits may have been confused to why they were given the funds.

In Indiana, SNAP benefits are usually issued to recipients according to an alphabetical schedule over a 19-day period throughout the month. That means some Hoosiers are still scheduled to receive their January amount. The shutdown has not impacted those funds or affected the schedule.

Kala Newell receives roughly $300 a month through the program. She was surprised to see the funds were added when she went grocery shopping on Wednesday.

“I went to do my shopping on the 16th and looked at my receipt to see the balance and February’s was already deposited,” said Newell.

Newell has been enrolled on the program for nearly three years. She’s now a stay-at-home mother and student who stays busy caring for her autistic son.

“When he is at school, I’m a student as well,” Newell said.

The Boone County mother said she knows family is there to help her keep food on the table but realized not everyone is as fortunate. However, she is worried about funds continuing to come in.

Future benefits from the program are up in the air as long as the shutdown continues.

Newell said her way to keep the funds lasting won’t be perfect. “I just hid my SNAP card,” she said. “So, I don’t have to touch it, out of sight, out of mind, basically.”

Weikert Bryant said Hoosiers should call their lawmakers in Congress and tell them to end the shutdown so Hoosier families can have one less worry about paying for food.

She added SNAP benefits help most families for three weeks of a month. Families will make ends meet for the rest of the month by looking for assistance from area food banks and pantries.

Those organizations have already been told SNAP families may look for help soon and they’ll be ready to help.

“Come to our food banks, come to our pantries,” Weikert Bryant. “We will do everything we can to make sure folks are getting served.”

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