The partial government shutdown is over for a couple of weeks. But the state is considering contingency plans for families who count on food benefits in case there’s another shutdown in mid-February.
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history put almost half a million New Mexicans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—or SNAP—in jeopardy. The feds fund SNAP to the tune of about $54 million every month in New Mexico, said Betina McCraken, spokesperson for the Human Services Department.
"Those are dollars that come into New Mexico’s economy," she said. "To be very honest, it not only helps the families, but it helps the economy in the local communities that these families live in."
During the shutdown, the state started thinking about how to find the cash for SNAP if the federal government didn’t reopen. Digging into the state’s coffers in an emergency is still on the table, McCraken said.
No matter what happens with the federal government next, SNAP benefits are assured for March and will be distributed on schedule. And the Women, Infants and Children program—or WIC—is set through May.