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Shutdown may cause big gap in SNAP issuances for South Carolina households

January 30, 2019

The partial government shutdown ended last Friday after dragging on for 35 days, but the consequences may still be felt by many families in South Carolina, particularly when it comes to food assistance programs.

February’s SNAP benefits were issued 10 days earlier than usual to prevent impacts from the shutdown on food assistance for the coming month. As a result, roughly 90 percent of SNAP-reliant households (around 30 million people) will experience a minimum 45-day gap between February and March issuances, if states don’t change their usual issuance schedule. Around 8 million people could see a gap of more than 50 days.

In South Carolina, half of SNAP-reliant households may see a gap of as few as 50 days.

SNAP law requires “no household experience an interval between issuances of more than 40 days.” It is unclear at this time whether South Carolina will change its SNAP issuance schedule to accommodate the effects of the shutdown.

Although the amount issued for SNAP for February and January was no different than normal, the timing of the issuances could cause major problems for families in need. According to a report done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it could cause “substantial hardship and hunger, and sharply increase demand for local emergency food providers and other community social services providers.”

Research cited in the report claims households that have exhausted SNAP benefits see a sharp increase in hospital admissions and school disciplinary problems, while diet quality and nutrition plummet.

The Golden Harvest Food Bank has been connecting previously furloughed federal employees (which numbered about 800,000 nationwide during the shutdown) with local food pantries and other food assistance programs and resources.

“Golden Harvest will not be cutting any services and will always find a way to continue to support our community partners in Georgia and South Carolina,” according to a statement posted to Golden Harvest’s website.

Anyone seeking food assistance should reach out to Golden Harvest Food Bank at 706-736-1199.

Donations for the hungry, including those affected by the shutdown, can be made to Golden Harvest. Monetary can be made online at goldenharvest.org. Food donations can be dropped off at any local Goodwill store, or at the food bank’s local warehouse from 8 a.m.to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 81 Capitol Drive.

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