LANSING — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be issuing Food Assistant Program (FAP) benefits early for the month of February, as the partial federal government shutdown pushes toward a fourth week.
As part of an early move to ensure assistance next month, Michigan is rushing to hand out February food stamps to 1.2 million low-income residents this weekend.
Food stamps in Michigan are usually issued over a 21-day period throughout the month.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the department that oversees food assistance programs across the nation, directed states to issue February food assistance benefits early. The USDA previously stated that food stamps will be funded through February due to a short-term funding bill. No additional benefits will be distributed.
Although the federal government shutdown had not yet had a major impact on state government services or programs, officials are preparing for significant funding challenges if the record-long shutdown continues in the coming weeks as nearly 40 percent of Michigan’s budget comes from federal sources.
Last week, the Trump administration announced it will fund February food assistance as long as states pay out the benefit by January 20.
The program and technology staff have been working on getting the food stamps payments out early for the state since the USDA announced the early plan last week. Funds to the Bridge Cards will be added electronically.
Even so, MDHHS is also taking extra steps to ensure recipients understand they are receiving an early payment and why it is important they not spend it immediately.
The state is posting notices through MI Bridge, the online portal where residents can apply for track benefits, and is messaging through local offices across Michigan and encouraging caseworkers to explain pending payments to their clients.
Recipients who don’t see extra money on their Bridge Card account on Saturday should receive them next week, according to Michigan’s Department of Human Services.
To check their balance, clients who receive the Bridge Card can call the customer service number on the back on their card; they can also go to the website or check at any stores that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
MDHHS is strongly encouraging families to budget the funds they receive in January so they can meet their food needs through the entire month of February.
For information on the USDA Food and Nutritional Services, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/.
For Michigan residents and/or SNAP benefit recipients, visit https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71547_5527—,00.html.