More than 600,000 Oregonians who rely on federal food stamp benefits are safe for now despite a partial government shutdown, a state official said Tuesday.
The state has secured funding to cover food stamps through February. Separately, state officials say they have money to continue a different food program for women, children and infants through March.
The food stamp program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, serves more than 350,000 households statewide. It provides about $75 million monthly to needy Oregonians, with an average household benefit of just over $200.
The federal government covers all food stamp benefits for Oregonians, and the state has already received its funding through February, said Dawn Myers, the program manager.
“I would not say that I am super concerned yet,” said Myers, who has experienced other brief federal shutdowns in her 13 years with the Department of Human Services. “I think that we have a good amount of time that we can go with benefits for individuals not being affected.”
Oregon issues food stamp credits to recipients each month, between the first and ninth, depending on a person’s Social Security number.
That means the earliest the federal shutdown could impact Oregonians would be March 1. The state does not maintain a reserve to fund the food-stamp program, Myers said.
If the shutdown were to continue, Myers said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service would likely provide information to state programs. But when such directions would come is unknown.
Meanwhile, the state has secured federal funding for a different food program serving about 89,000 people through March, said Robb Cowie, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children provides recipients about $4 million a month, or $50 on average.