The Government Shutdown’s Impact on Hunger in Vermont
January 11th, 2018 – Earlier this week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they are providing states with funding to continue funding federal nutrition programs through February. The Vermont Foodbank is relieved that important benefits like SNAP, WIC, and school meals will continue until the end of February for families and individuals who need assistance.
However, during the shutdown USDA will not be able to provide funding past December 21 to help offset the cost for our food bank to distribute food from USDA into our community. This additional cost is not something anticipated by our food bank and will be harder to meet over time.
We are very concerned about what happens to federal nutrition programs if the shutdown continues past February and federal nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC can’t be funded. In addition, we are already seeing an increase in demand for food assistance from families and individuals who are experiencing hardship due to the shutdown. We anticipate further need as furloughed federal employees and contractors miss paychecks, and the impact on household budgets could continue for many months after the loss of funds.
For every meal our food bank provides, federal programs like SNAP provide far more, and we are concerned demand would exceed our capacity if these critical programs don’t continue to receive funds. Our nationwide network of member food banks stands at the ready in any crisis, and this shutdown is no different.
Information for service providers and program participants
Because of the government shutdown, Vermont’s Department for Children and Families (DCF) will be issuing February 3SquaresVT benefits early, on January 20th. These benefits will be for the entire month of February, so it is important that participants budget accordingly.
Because these benefits will be issued early, DCF needs to complete interviews and receive any required documentation from 3SquaresVT applicants and participants on or before January 15th (Tuesday).
If you need to complete an interview for your 3SquaresVT application or recertification, please call the interview line at 1-877-403-7668 right away.
If you are currently in the application or recertification process, if you need to complete an interim report, or if you recently received a notice from DCF requesting documentation (pay stubs or proof of income, proof of medical expenses, etc.) you must send your documents in immediately to continue your benefits.
If you aren’t sure if this applies to you, call the Benefits Service Center at 1-800-479-6151 to speak to a benefits specialist who can help. Expect a long wait time, but please stay on the line and do not give up! It is important that you hang on and get the information you need.
This is an ongoing situation, and there will likely be more updates to share in the coming days. Please visit https://www.hungerfreevt.org/government-shutdown for the most up to date information.