An office within the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for overseeing food stamps and other nutrition services is almost completely without funding during the government shutdown.
CNN reported Wednesday that the Office of Food and Nutrition Services — which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) — now has just five percent of its funding due to the ongoing federal government shutdown.
While Americans currently receiving food stamps won’t see an interruption in their benefits, other programs under the Office of Food and Nutrition Services’ purview will be effectively shuttered except in special circumstances. According to CNN, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as well as the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations “will only be operational based on available resources.”
As of 2017, roughly eight million Americans — typically pregnant women, women currently breastfeeding, and children ages four and under — were receiving WIC benefits. A 2014 eligibility fact sheet from the USDA’s website showed that the majority of eligible WIC recipients that year were infants.
The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) program, which is also being effectively shut down until Congress appropriates more funding, serves nearly 100,000 people, according to a USDA fact sheet from January of 2018. Americans eligible to receive FDPIR benefits include Indigenous people of more than 270 federally recognized Native American tribes and Americans in Oklahoma who are not near a SNAP office or authorized grocery stores.
President Trump reversed course on his previous position that he would fight to keep the government open during the holidays after conservative pundits Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter shamed Trump for not attaching funding for Trump’s border wall to the must-pass government funding bill. While both the House and Senate gaveled in on Thursday, there were no planned votes on the Congressional schedule, meaning the government shutdown could last until the 116th Congress gavels in on January 3.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.