Despite Rumors, WIC and SNAP Still Working in Montana
Over 20,000 Montana women, infants and children use WIC, a food assistance program that helps families afford baby formula, milk, cereal and other basics. On Wednesday October 9, WIC users received an automated message reminding them the program was still operational in Montana despite the federal shutdown.
Although some states have complained of funding problems with WIC recently, Montana Department of Health and Human Services spokesman John Ebelt said Montana should be fine for the next few weeks.
"We are distributing benefits as normal," Ebelt said. "The reason for that, which might not be the situation in other states, is good fiscal management of our program. We are allowed to carry some funds over from one federal fiscal year to another. Right now, though, there's not a budget for federal fiscal year '14, which is the reason for the shutdown, until that gets sorted out - and hopefully that will be sorted out fairly soon - we do have some funds to get us through October."
Ebelt said that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, will also be able to make it to the end of the month.
"We did issue [SNAP] benefits the beginning of October. Those benefits are out the door. People have those benefits and are able to use their SNAP cards to purchase food. We have been getting some calls about rumors going around that people needed to use their SNAP benefits today and that grocery stores weren't accepting them, but that's not true."
The SNAP program is used by nearly twelve percent of Montanans, a total of around 120,000 people.