South Carolina to receive $1.6M bonus for improving food stamp program

Food stamp recipients will see funding for February early due to the partial federal government shutdown. File/AP

COLUMBIA — The state Department of Social Services is distributing food stamp benefits early as a result of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, which is now the longest in the country's history.

The state agency, which handles funding for what is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will disburse the money for the month of February on Jan. 17.

South Carolinians who are eligible for those federal benefits will see the monthly funding arrive early, but the Department of Social Services wants people to recognize that it is not a bonus payment.

The money will need to last the federal recipients throughout February and possibly longer, depending on how long the government shutdown lasts. 

The more than 288,000 households receiving SNAP benefits in South Carolina aren't alone in getting the benefits early. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages the federal food program, instructed all of the states to push out the money for February ahead of time. 

If a compromise over the federal budget isn't reached, it is less clear whether there will be any money available for the roughly 38.5 million SNAP recipients in the United States, according to USDA figures.    

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Reach Andrew Brown at 843-708-1830 or follow him on Twitter @andy_ed_brown.