TEXAS SNAP-SHUTDOWN?- The ongoing partial federal government shutdown could prove troublesome for Texas retailers regarding federal food assistance programs, even if money for programs is still available. Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, dodged a bullet recently . At least temporarily, when the USDA announced that federal food assistance dollars will flow through February. But in Texas, that that could create a different problem. Celia Cole is the executive director of the Austin-based hunger advocacy group Feeding Texas. And part of her concerns center on the state’s food retailers.
"Typically our retail stores in Texas are very conscious of sort of spending patterns and they’ll stock up at staff up at the beginning of the month for stores that have a lot of SNAP customers because they get their benefits and come in and spend them.," explains Cole. "It’s very, very common for people to use their SNAP benefits all at once and then they often run out at the end of the month and so I think our stores are very in tune, our retailers are very in tune with that and really work to ensure that they can meet the needs for their customers."
Texas staggers its SNAP payments to beneficiaries throughout the month. But THIS month, the federal government is releasing the funds in one big sum expected to cover into next month. Recipients might not see benefits again for another seven weeks.
"Someone who typically gets their benefits later in the month, if they get their February benefits on January 20th, they might be waiting until, you know, mid-March for their next allotment, "explains Cole.
Cole says officials need to explain to the 3.7 million Texas SNAP recipients about budgeting for what COULD be a long pause until their next round of funding. Texas Public Radio KETR contributed to this report.