De­spite shutdown, Illi­nois res­i­dents will get SNAP ben­e­fits

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MANNY RAMOS, STAFF RE­PORTER [email protected]­times.com | @_ManuelRamos_ Manny Ramos is a corps mem­ber in Re­port for Amer­ica, a not-for­profit jour­nal­ism program that aims to bol­ster Sun-Times cov­er­age of is­sues af­fect­ing Chicago’s South and West sides.

Illi­nois res­i­dents who count on the Sup­ple­men­tal Nu­tri­tion As­sis­tance Program will re­ceive ben­e­fits for Fe­bru­ary de­spite the par­tial fed­eral gov­ern­ment shutdown, state of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The Illi­nois De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices fig­ured out a way to pro­vide ben­e­fits through SNAP, for­merly known as food stamps, which is fed­er­ally funded.

“There’s some­thing of a catch and that is those ben­e­fits will have to be issued early,” IDHS Sec­re­tary James Di­mas said Fri­day. “It’s go­ing to be re­ally im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand that this is early and not ex­tra. These ben­e­fits have to last them through the end of Fe­bru­ary.”

Ben­e­fits will be avail­able by Jan. 20, nearly three weeks be­fore some fam­i­lies nor­mally re­ceive their cred­its to buy food with an Illi­nois Link Card. Over 870,000 Illi­nois house­holds, or about 1.8 mil­lion peo­ple, re­ceive as­sis­tance statewide, the agency said.

Di­mas said his agency is try­ing to find ways to pro­vide ben­e­fits for March in case the gov­ern­ment shutdown isn’t re­solved. The par­tial gov­ern­ment shutdown is a re­sult of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Congress be­ing un­able to agree on a bud­get bill.

Greg Trot­ter, a spokesman for the Greater Chicago Food De­pos­i­tory, said while they are com­mit­ted to help­ing com­bat food in­se­cu­rity they could never re­place what SNAP as­sis­tance does for fam­i­lies.

“Ac­cord­ing to our es­ti­mate, for ev­ery one meal that the food de­pos­i­tory pro­vides in Cook County, SNAP ben­e­fits pro­vide the equiv­a­lent of eight meals,” Trot­ter said. “If SNAP was dis­rupted there is no way, de­spite our best ef­forts, food banks like ours would be able to fill that void.”

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