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12 23Sat11292014

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Back Local News No immediate shutdown effect on SNAP

No immediate shutdown effect on SNAP

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IF THE congressional impasse over the fiscal 2014 budget causes the federal government to shut down, benefits administered by the island's Department of Public Health and Social Services will continue for the short term.

Programs administered by DPHSS include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the Child Nutrition Programs including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk; Centers for Disease Control grants; and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants.

The programs will be impacted to varying degrees, but not immediately. “Some saving grace for us is that we have some lapsed funds in programs to carry through for a short period,” said Jim Gillan, director of DPHSS. However, the length of a government shutdown, if it occurs, is unknown.

Guidance provided by the federal programs to DPHSS outlines the effect of the shutdown on the programs, though does so with the assumption that the funding lapse will last for less than a month. “(SNAP) will continue operations and eligible households will still receive monthly benefits for October,” according to the federal guidance. In addition, contingency funding will be available and could be used to support state administrative activities essential to continue the program, and issue and process benefits.

No additional federal funds would be available to support WIC’s clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs. “States may have some funds available from infant formula rebates or other sources, including spend-forward authority, to continue operations for a week or so, but states would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period,” according to the guidance.

The Child Nutrition Programs – School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk – will continue operations into October. Meal providers are paid 30 days after the end of the service month and the department expects that once an appropriation is enacted, resources will be available to reimburse October performance.

No additional federal funds would be available to support the Commodity Assistance Programs, including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program administrative funding, and the WIC Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Program.

The public health grant programs from the CDC are not affected by the government shutdown and should continue normal operations until DPHSS is informed otherwise. Routine federal administrative support may be impacted, however.

Similarly, should a shutdown occur, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration staff will not be available to provide routine administrative support. The department will, however, maintain the Payment Management System to continue processing grant drawdown requests, so that payments can be made, according to a letter from the program.

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