Second government shutdown could affect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- People who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have a lot riding on the ongoing negotiations about border security with the possibility of another federal government shutdown.

"We didn't really see a direct impact from the first shutdown, because the benefits were there through February. The concern is if we have a second shutdown, we only have benefits through March. So would SNAP benefits be there through March is the question," Ben Rose, director of Durham County Social Services told ABC11.

The Durham County Commissioners directed staff to come up with a resolution that would keep those benefits coming, if the federal government deems SNAP an essential service.

"Like Social Security, like Medicare, we would like food and nutrition to be considered a very essential program because it literally serves over 36 million people in this country and it is the safety net for a lot of our most vulnerable citizens," said Rose.

After commissioners vote on the measure, which Rose says they're expected to approve, there will be copies sent to the county's legislative delegation.

They'll also urge the other 99 counties in North Carolina to take similar action on behalf of SNAP recipients.

"The federal shutdown date is Friday," Rose said, "so we would get the results on info to them by tomorrow. And we would be sending a clear message that we stand with our citizens, trying to avoid a shutdown."

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