(WTHI)- January 16th. An important day for those who receive SNAP benefits. That's because benefits for the month of February have been sent out due to the federal government shutdown.
News 10 has had several questions come into our newsroom about this change. So, we reached out to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to clear up a few things.
585,000 people in the Hoosier state receive SNAP benefits. With the federal government shutdown nearing four weeks, Marni Lemons, Deputy Director of Communications for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, says February benefits were distributed Wednesday to ensure they'd go out.
Some people have already gotten their SNAP benefits for the month of January. For those who haven't, Lemons says not to worry.
She explains, "There are some people whose regular distribution date if their last name begins with a letter toward the end of the alphabet, it actually isn't until after today. So, some people might be confused. But, what they received today is technically their February benefits. They will continue to receive their January benefits on the regular due date."
With the odd timing of February's benefits, Indiana FSSA wants to remind people that the timing of how they spend their benefits is important.
Lemons shares, "They need to make sure and spread those purchases out because there won't be more payments to their account for the month of February, regardless of what happens. So they need to make those benefits last through the end of February."
Lemons adds that despite the shutdown, EBT cards will still function like normal.
Lemons explains, "SNAP benefits are applied to EBT card accounts, it works the same way as if you have direct deposit of your paycheck and you use your debit card then. So, there's an account that holds their benefits and they have a card that works just like a debit card that is charged against those benefits. So no, their card will continue to work as long as their benefits are available."
Unfortunately, as uncertainty continues for the length of the federal government shutdown, so does the fate of March's benefits. Officials say there is no plan in place yet.
Many federal workers in the Wabash Valley are working without pay. It could be to the point for them where they're in need of financial or food assistance.
News 10 asked Lemons what employees who are struggling during the shutdown should do if they're in need of benefits like SNAP.
She explained, "One can always apply, but I don't think that we will be able to provide any more benefits through the end of February as things currently stand. But, they can always change."
Lemons says they greatly appreciate their local partners such as food banks and soup kitchens to help struggling residents fill in the gaps.
To apply for SNAP benefits in Indiana, click here.