BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland residents who receive food assistance and were impacted by the partial government shutdown will receive their March benefits.
The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that they will provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on March 6, 2019.
Benefits will be provided to all residents in Maryland, including those who were impacted by the partial federal government shutdown.
SNAP benefits (known as the Food Supplement Program, or FSP, in Maryland) are normally issued between the 1st and the 24th of each month.
This year, all March SNAP/FSP benefits are being issued on the same date to reduce the length of time between recipients February and March SNAP/FSP benefits.
DHS hopes that this schedule will eliminate the possibility of low-income individuals and families to go through an extended period where they are unable to access FSP benefits.
“Our goal is to provide some certainty and relief to vulnerable Marylanders during this unpredictable time,” DHS Secretary, Lourdes Padilla reinforced.
On average, for each month there are more than 650,000 Marylanders receiving approximately $75 million in FSP assistance.
During the partial federal government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal agency that funds SNAP/FSP program, directed states to issue February benefits earlier than usual. As a result, Maryland SNAP/FSP recipients obtained their February FSP benefits on or before January 20, 2019.
“Changing the distribution date to March 6 and issuing all the SNAP/FSP benefits on the same day reduces the time recipients must wait for funds to purchase food in Maryland.” DHS Secretary Padilla stated.
DHS has taken a number of steps to ensure its clients are notified and prepared for the change in March service delivery.
The department has mailed more than 300,000 letters to SNAP/FSP households, launched a webpage with specific information and resources about SNAP/FSP benefits, compiled a list of community food resources by city/county, and posted a series of FAQs.