There's relief for more than 70,000 Nebraskans who receive food stamps. The federal government announced Wednesday that everyone will receive their benefits on March 1, even if the there's another shutdown.
During the government shutdown, the state released February SNAP benefits in January, which helped at the time but left people to stretch their benefits farther than usual this month. The looming threat of another shutdown has been compounding the pressure on SNAP recipients.
6 News spoke with a mother who relies on SNAP. She got emotional when we told her the government is guaranteeing a payment on March 1. That’s two days early for Sheila Allee, but even that small amount means something because she relies on food stamps to feed her family.
SNAP benefits are typically issued between the first and fifth of each month, but not this February. The state issued February's benefits in January in effort take some of the pressure off people like Allee, who didn't know when they would get their next payment. “I was very worried about and everything because I do have my own, my own child and I was scared that I was going to get it or not and it was just really hard for me because I didn't know when I was going to get my next meal for my son."
On Wednesday, Sheila was at the Together Inc. Food Pantry. Like other SNAP recipients, she's relied on local pantries to bridge the longer than normal gap between benefit payments. She was nearly speechless to hear there is a guaranteed payment in March. “That I know I'm going to be able to feed my family, like I’m supposed to - like any other person and my loved ones if they need help on some level."
Together Inc. executive director Mike Hornacek tells 6 News that he was also relieved. “A lot of people have been very nervous for the last 90 days, roughly. Maybe even more than that - about 'Am I going to keep getting my SNAP benefit? When am I going to get the SNAP benefits?.' So this communication coming out provides a lot of relief and security people for people who have been very nervous."
Hornacek wants to remind people that the food pantry is stocked and ready to serve anyone who's still feeling the impact of the government shutdown.