AUGUSTA, Maine — SNAP benefits for February will be arriving earlier than usual.  

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is giving families and individuals who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program their February benefits on January 17 in case the partial government shutdown impacts the program. 

Governor Janet Mills and acting DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew made the announcement Monday, January 14, as they also called on the federal government to end the partial shutdown that continues to drag into its 24th day. 

“The ongoing federal shutdown puts critical services, including nutrition assistance for Maine children and families, at risk,” said Mills. 

Mills says if the shutdown continues past February 180,000 Maine families could be affected. 

“The Maine Department of Health and Human Services will ensure every SNAP participant receives their February benefits, just earlier than usual. Families should be mindful of this when they are planning their shopping for the month, and budget accordingly,” said Lambrew. 

Maine participants who received a SNAP benefit in January and were scheduled to receive the benefit again in February will receive it on January 17. Participants will not receive another allotment in February.

SNAP is a federal program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides nutrition assistance to eligible low-income individuals and their families.

According to a Dec. 3, 2018 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one in every seven Mainers participated in the SNAP program in Fiscal Year 2017. More than 61 percent of Maine’s SNAP participants are in families with children and almost 49 percent are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities.

New Hampshire DHHS announced Tuesday, Jan. 15, they will do the same in the Granite State.

February benefits will be available to food stamp recipients in New Hampshire beginning January 20, instead of the regular availability date of February 5th. DHHS in New Hampshire says the early availability is not an additional benefit, and beneficiaries are encouraged to plan their purchases carefully.