Federal shutdown wouldn’t affect DHHR services, including food assistance, in October
As a federal government shutdown nears, West Virginia health department leaders say they won’t immediately pause federal programs, like food assistance, for low-income residents.
Congress faces a deadline of midnight on Saturday to pass a new budget before a government shutdown would ensue, furloughing millions of federal employees and putting some safety services in jeopardy.
Earlier this week, the White House warned that a government shutdown would “jeopardize” federal food assistance for nearly 7 million mothers who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program, known as WIC.
Residents in West Virginia won’t see their WIC or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) services disrupted, and the programs will continue for October, according to state health officials.
“A disruption in services is not anticipated at this time,” Jessica Holstein, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources spokesperson, said in an email.
DHHR county offices will remain open and continue to process SNAP applications and renewals. The state’s WIC offices will remain open, as well.
On Friday, during a virtual briefing with Gov. Jim Justice, DHHR Interim Secretary Sherri Young said, “We’ve worked very hard to try to make sure that even in the event of a federal shutdown that our most vulnerable populations from DHHR services will continue to be served, at least in a temporary capacity.”
Nearly seventy percent of the agency’s funding comes from federal resources, so Young noted that an ongoing federal shutdown could force DHHR to figure out how to keep programs running.
“As the duration of a potential shutdown is unknown, DHHR continues to evaluate programs and funding availability to formulate a contingency plan to shift funds if necessary and where possible in order to cover essential services,” Holstein said in an email.
As of August, there were more than 292,000 individuals in 156,767 households receiving SNAP across West Virginia. The state’s WIC program serves more than 37,000 participants per month.
“DHHR has been working with the governor’s office to make sure we had a contingency plan the closer we got to the imminent shutdown, so we’ve assessed our programs,” she said. Federal shutdown wouldn’t affect DHHR services, including food assistance, in October