Montana SNAP recipients to receive February payment early

    The Department of Public Health and Human Services emphasizes these are early payments, not extra payments, and must stretch through February. Photo: NBC Montana

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is one option for people who struggle to put food on the table every day.

    According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 120,000 people in Montana used SNAP in 2017.

    With the government shutdown, the future of SNAP’s funding is at risk. Its funding only lasts through Jan. 22.

    To get around that deadline, the USDA announced Tuesday that SNAP payments for February will be issued early.

    The Missoula Food Bank is another place low-income residents can get their food.

    Missoula Food Bank executive director Aaron Brock says they see between 150 to 200 people each day. He believes that may change if the government shutdown continues into March.

    "The SNAP program is a really big deal in this community,” Brock said. “If this shutdown continues, if it carries on into March and April, there is no organization -- and certainly not us -- that's equipped to turn around and meet that need in an ongoing way."

    Brock has seen furloughed workers coming to the food bank Monday and Tuesday, citing a need from their missed paychecks on Friday.

    SNAP recipients should see the February payment on their card Thursday.

    The Department of Public Health and Human Services wants to make sure those SNAP recipients know it is an early payment and not an extra payment. They are also asking stores to get the word out by posting fliers and notifying shoppers.

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