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Change in food benefits

STEUBENVILLE — Jefferson County residents will get 50 percent of their March food stamp benefits on Feb. 22.

Elizabeth Ferron, county Job and Family Services director, said she was informed of a federal government decision to distribute half of the their March Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits because February’s distribution was done on Jan. 16 because of the partial federal government shutdown.

Funding for the program was in jeopardy for February because of the government shutdown, so the federal government decided to push the February food stamp benefits through early.

Ferron said federal regulations require SNAP benefits be provided on or around the same date every month. She said the state must ensure that a participating household does not go more than 40 days between benefit distributions.

Distribution is done on a staggered basis throughout the month, she said.

Because the February distribution was done on Jan. 16, the state determined the gap between distributions would range between 44 and 59 days.

Ferron said the state, in order to mitigate the impact of the early February distribution, determined a 50 percent distribution would be done on Feb. 22.

The other half will be done on the regular issuance date in March, she said.

“We are excited about this decision. We are a social service agency, and we are here to help people,” Ferron said.

Ferron urged food cart recipients prior to the Jan. 16 distribution to budget their benefits wisely so the money lasts until March. She said the agency has not received many calls from people who had run out of food stamp benefits.

Ferron again urged recipients to budget the money until the program gets back to normal distributions.

About 7,100 households in the county receive food stamp benefits, the agency reported.

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