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Future Of Food Stamps Uncertain As Shutdown Continues

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The partial federal government shutdown is having an impact on Mecklenburg County residents who use Food and Nutrition Services commonly known as food stamps. After February benefits are distributed, recipients will have to wait until the shutdown is over to receive additional services. 

Food and Nutrition Services benefits would normally be available Feb. 3 through Feb. 21. But because of the government shutdown, those February benefits will be available early — this Sunday, Jan. 20.

“You’re going to get your January and February benefits at the same time," Men Tchaas Ari of Mecklenburg County’s Department of Social Services said. He added the process was sped up to ensure those in need will get their benefits.

"We want to make sure that they budget appropriately," he said. "Most folks only budget [for the] given one-month allotment, not budgeting two months at the same time. We really don’t want people to run out of food in the month of February.”

Which is a big concern especially if the federal government remains in its partial shutdown after February. Ari said additional benefits cannot be added for future months until the shutdown is resolved.

“We always consider ourselves to be the safety net for those in need in our community and to think that we may not have benefits available is something we don’t want to have to consider,” Ari said

He added about 57,000 household use food stamps in Mecklenburg County. Those in need of more information about their benefits can call 888-622-7328.

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.