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USDA issues "contingency plans" on impending government shutdown - SNAP and school meals to continue, fed $ for WIC, TEFAP and other programs at risk

 
It is truly stunning to send out this email in anticipation of a shut down of federal government services tomorrow. The current strategy of House Republicans is to hold government funding hostage to a one-year delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Here's the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities report issued on September 28th detailing how the one-year delay is riddled with flaws. The Coalition for Human Needs sums it up aptly in their September 23rd report, "extremists may shut down government and sabotage its fiscal integrity in their attempts to cripple the Affordable Care Act."  Furthermore, it is unconscionable that Congress would deprive pregnant women and young children of WIC benefits, fail to fund emergency food, and put so many other critical government programs at risk. Over the weekend, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued a "shut down plan" with details on the lapses in federal funding, accessible here: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-fns-shutdown-plan.pdf  Below are the highlights (pg 2 of contingency plan).  
 
PLEASE NOTE, Massachusetts does have state-funded WIC and a state-funded emergency food program (MEFAP), so this may not have immediate impact on these programs. We hope the state will ensure seamless funding pending this senseless federal debate.
 
We will keep you posted as this proceeds.  Meanwhile, NOW more than ever is the time to call family and friends in other states and urge them to communicate with their elected officials to denounce this unacceptable brinkmanship. 
 
 
 
Specific program impacts of a lapse in funding are provided below. These impacts assume that the lapse is of short duration (i.e., less than one month). Should the funding lapse be longer, the FNCS contingency plan and these associated impacts will be re-visited and updated:
 
• The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue operations and eligible households will still receive monthly benefits for October. The authority to make October benefit payments comes from the Recovery Act, through which Congress provided “such sums  as are necessary” to finance the SNAP benefit provided for in the Recovery Act. In addition, about $2 billion in contingency funding will be available and could be used to support State Administrative activities essential to continue the program and issue and process benefits. These contingency funds were provided in the FY 2013 appropriation and do not expire until the end of FY 2014.
 
• No additional federal funds would be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)’s clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs. States may have some funds available from infant formula rebates or other sources, including spend forward authority,to continue operations for a week or so, but States would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period. Contingency funds will be available to help States – but even this funding would not fully mitigate a shortfall for the
entire month of October. 
 
• The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations into October. Meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month. Limited carryover funding will be available during a lapse to support FY 2014 meal service. Once an appropriation is enacted, we expect additional resources will be available to reimburse October performance. In addition, most State agencies will continue to have fiscal year 2013 funds available for State Administrative Expenses (SAE). SAE funds are awarded to States for a two year grant period and they are permitted to carryover up to 20 percent of their allocation into the second year of the grant period. 
 
• No additional federal funds would be available to support the Commodity Assistance Programs (CAP) including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) administrative funding, and the WIC Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Program (FMNP). Similarly, no new funds will be available to support the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). While there would be some inventory available for use in food packages, no carryover, contingency or other funds would be available to support continued operations.