Disparity over SNAP funding leaves local families without answer

By Wyatt Massey wmassey@newspost.comJan 29, 2019 

For the nearly 6,000 households in Frederick County relying on the government for food-based assistance, the end of the recent partial shutdown did not solve a looming problem of funding for the programs they rely on.

State leaders of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program say it is funded through February. Maryland Department of Human Services leaders had not learned of any further plans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund SNAP beyond February with the current continuing resolution signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 25, Katherine Morris, DHS communications director, said in a statement.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which appropriates money to states for SNAP, said in a statement Tuesday to The Frederick News-Post that the program is funded through March.

The disparity between state and federal agencies over how long the program is funded will affect local families. Statewide, more than 106,000 households received SNAP benefits totaling more than $25.6 million in fiscal 2017, according to a Frederick County Department of Social Services annual report.

SNAP recipients received a letter mailed the week of Jan. 14 stating that because of the shutdown they would receive their February payments at the same time as their January check.

The double payment was the last of the federal money appropriated to the USDA for SNAP. USDA directed DHS — the agency distributing SNAP in the state, known in Maryland as the Food Supplement Program — to send the February payments ahead of schedule.

More than 15,400 people in Frederick County are considered food insecure, according to Feeding America.

SNAP provides food assistance but, on average, does not cover the entire food budget for recipients. The maximum SNAP benefit covers 73 percent of the cost of an average meal in Frederick County, according to analysis by the Urban Institute.

To make up the difference, SNAP recipients often turn to local food banks. The double payment issued in January caused some irregularities in food bank participation, local leaders said. To CONTINUE FOLLOW LINK TO FREDERICK NEWS POST..