Government Shutdown Could Threaten SNAP and WIC Food Assistance Programs




Millions of Americans who rely on federal assistance for food could potentially be placed in a vulnerable position during a partial government shutdown.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which manages the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), could be impacted if Congress fails to reach a funding agreement.

SNAP food stamps help low-income and no-income families buy groceries, and funds are distributed on an EBT card. Because benefits are issued the prior month, there would not be an immediate impact in the event of a government shutdown.

But if the shutdown continued for more than a month, USDA employees who operate the program may face furloughs, potentially impacting SNAP beneficiaries.

WIC, which aims to provide food assistance to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and their babies and young children, is facing a $1 billion budget shortfall. The program would run as usual for a short time during a government shutdown, but funding may quickly run out.

WIC will prioritize pregnant women, breastfeeding women and infants with issues like anemia or pre-term birth, but individuals in lower priority tiers may face waitlists.

While funding for WIC could pose issues in Congress, a continuing resolution may permit the agency to keep running through a government shutdown. This is a temporary spending plan that enables the government to continue operating while lawmakers deliberate over a final budget.

A government shutdown would trigger furloughs for most USDA employees, indicating that they would not be able to work except during the shutdown's final stages to assist with shutting down critical operations. These workers would not be compensated until the government is funded again.

Congressional leaders have until March 8th to fund the government, including the USDA. If funding is not provided, millions of beneficiaries of SNAP and WIC programs could be impacted, making food assistance difficult to obtain.





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