February SNAP benefits released early, food banks prepping to help

Food banks ready to fill the void if food stamp benefits fall short

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s been 33 days since the government shutdown. It’s the longest shutdown in U.S. History.

While officials and Washington continue to try to make a deal, hundreds of thousands of government workers are still working without pay.

Without a deal, thousands of families are unsure of the immediate future, including those using SNAP benefits, which were previously called food stamps.

“There's only so long people can go without a paycheck before they eventually spend through their reserves and have to turn somewhere to help,” Brian Riendeau, Executive Director of Dare to Care Food Bank, said.

Kentucky and Indiana distributed SNAP benefits for February early because of the shutdown.

It’s unclear what will happen if the shutdown continues through February.

“What we are trying to get [SNAP participants] to understand is that they need to economize those benefits -- need to last them through the month of February,” Marni Lemons, Deputy Director of Communication for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said. “After that we don’t have any further information."

Lemons said 585,000 people received their February SNAP benefits on January 16.

In Kentucky, customers received them by January 20.

She said if anyone has problems with the SNAP benefits to call 211 and they can direct you to somewhere local you can get help.

Dare to Care has 270 locations across 13 counties they serve in Kentucky and Indiana. They run off donations.
Dare to Care has 270 locations across 13 counties they serve in Kentucky and Indiana. They run off donations. (WAVE 3 News)

Riendeau said there are 170,000 food insecure people in Louisville and southern Indiana. Dare to Care served 145,000 of them last year.

“Our job is to make sure that while they’re at risk of not having enough food, they don’t actually go without enough food,” Riendeau said.

Many of Dare to Care’s clients make an income, but use food stamps to help. With uncertainty surrounding whether they will get assistance in March, food banks like Dare to Care are stepping up.

“What happens when SNAP benefits dry up is that portion of their food pie goes away and the charitable portion expands,” Riendeau said. “And that's when the pressure comes on food banks like us to make sure we have enough food to help fill that shortfall."

Dare to Care says they haven’t seen an increase in people needing assistance, but they’re prepared to help furloughed government employees, SNAP benefits customers and anyone else who needs it.

Dare to Care has 270 locations across 13 counties they serve in Kentucky and Indiana. They run off donations and need the community’s help to make sure their pantries are stocked and available for people to use.

If you would like to help, or you need assistance from Dare to Care, click or tap here.

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