Some food aid funneled through states will continue if the government shuts down

September 28, 2013

Some programs will continue to receive federal funds, but those for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children would be cut off during a shutdown. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post.)

Yesterday we cited a report that predicted federal food aid funneled through the states would dry up quickly if Congress fails to pass a bill authorizing some funding beyond Oct. 1. Well, the Department of Agriculture now says that that’s true for some programs, but not for all.

In a document outlining its contingency plan for a potential shutdown next week, USDA said funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits — formerly known as food stamps — will continue in October under authority granted by the 2009 stimulus bill. In addition, the agency said, states might still also be able to receive partial reimbursements for related administrative costs from a $2 billion contingency fund.

Child nutrition programs — including “School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk” — will also continue into October, the USDA said.

But not all federal food aid will continue, though advocates say many states may pick up the tab. Federal funding for administration and benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — which provides grants to states for food aid, health care referrals and nutrition education for some low-income women and children — will cease if the government shuts down.

While the USDA report says states may only have enough leftover funds for a week or so, advocates believe that many states may choose to fund the program beyond that. Those concerned about whether benefits will be available should call program administrators to get the most up-to-date information, they say.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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