Friday is day 21 of the government shutdown. As people wait for paychecks or benefits, the USDA is making states hand out SNAP, or food stamps, early. Instead of waiting until February 10, South Dakota families will be able to get SNAP benefits on January 20.
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. According to the Trump administration, it’s going to be funded through February. But if the government isn’t open in March, SNAP assistance could be in jeopardy. Friday in Sioux Falls KELOLAND News visited Feeding South Dakota as well as Faith Temple Church’s weekly food giveaway.
Kara, who didn’t want to share her last name, is a single mother with a full-time job and a college degree. SNAP helps her make ends meet as she cares for her son.
“It’s our lifeline, in that we wouldn’t be able to make our monthly bills without that, if I had to pay for groceries,” Kara said. “Especially since my son has an allergy. He’s allergic to wheat.”
The consequences for not having SNAP benefits could be dire.
“Without them, we could potentially become evicted because we probably wouldn’t be able to make all of our monthly utilities and rent,” Kara said. “Or we’d lose our vehicle, possibly my phone, things like that. The bare necessities.”
Faith Temple Church pastor Jeff Hayes says most of the food given away comes from Feeding South Dakota.
“Usually four to five hundred people come every Friday, and they represent three times the number,” Hayes said. “So if we give food away to five hundred people, most likely 1,500 people were fed by the food giveaway.”
Feeding South Dakota is getting ready for a big “if.”
“We’re in the planning stages of basically preparing for what happens if SNAP benefits run out,” said Feeding South Dakota Development Director Christina Oey. “So next week, we’re hoping to have a final plan that includes any potential increases in food donation, any monetary donations that we’re going to need, any help we’re going to need.”