The ongoing federal government shutdown is not expected to impact Chicago-area food-stamp recipients for at least another month, should the government funding impasse last that long.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is funded through the end of January, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week as the shutdown hit.
But after that, hundreds of thousands of people in Cook County who rely on the program could be forced to look elsewhere for food.
“If it drags on beyond January, that’s definitely a concern,” said Greg Trotter, spokesman for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which connects people with SNAP benefits, in addition to serving about 800,000 people in Cook County each year through about 700 food pantries and soup kitchens.
“SNAP is the frontline defense against hunger in our country. It’s incredibly important,” Trotter said.
More than 1.9 million Illinoisans received food stamps in 2016, according to the most recent figures available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 40 million people use the program nationwide.
SNAP benefits in Illinois are administered by the state Department of Human Services.
“Our programs will not be affected by the shutdown in the short term,” department spokesman Patrick Laughlin said in an email.
Federal school breakfast and lunch programs are also expected to last into February if the shutdown lingers that long, Perdue said.
Less clear is the fate of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) for people over 60. They “can continue to operate at the state and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available,” Perdue said.