Starting July 1, food stamps benefits will be delivered on a different schedule. They will be delivered over the first 10 days of the month, instead of only on the first of the month. It’s very important that everyone involved understands how they may be affected so they can plan ahead and avoid a food shortage as much as possible. Participants who do not receive their benefits on the first of the month will need to have a plan for how they will address the extra days until their benefits are available.
Why is the schedule being changed?
The Legislature passed a law in 2014 to require the department to issue benefits over the first 10 days of the month rather than only on the first day of the month. Grocers had lobbied the Legislature to move to a 10-day distribution for benefits because of crowded stores, long lines and challenges with inventory on the first of each month. The department has been working with grocery stores, food banks and pantries, and others since July 2015 to make this transition as seamless as possible.
How many people will this affect?
As of April, about 187,000 Idahoans receive nutrition assistance from the food stamps program. That’s just less than 12 percent of the state’s population. It’s important to note that the amount of food stamps issued will not change for participants. The only thing that’s changing is the day the benefits are loaded on the card.
How will they know when their benefits will be available?
Participants will receive their benefits based on the last number of the birth year of the primary applicant. A person born in 1970, for example, would receive their benefits on the 10th day of the month. Someone born in 1981 would receive it on the first day. The primary applicant is the person who applied for the benefits and whose name is on letters and notifications sent by the department. The person who receives the benefits might be a different person in the family. That distinction will be important as participants figure out when they will receive their benefits.
We get text alerts for just about everything now. Is that an option as well?
If you want to be alerted when your SNAP benefits have been loaded on your card, text alerts are an option; participants can sign up by calling 1-800-432-4328 or registering at www.ebtaccount.jpmorgan.com/chp. They can also access their accounts online by setting up an account at idalink.idaho.gov. Those links are available on the department’s website. And anyone with questions can call our offices at 1-877-456-1233.
July 1 is the start of a long holiday weekend. How does that factor in?
July 1 is a Friday, and the Fourth of July is a Monday. Our offices and most food pantries will be closed. This is why it’s so important to plan ahead. We hope that people who receive food stamps benefits will use their benefits a little differently to help them get through the transition. They could plan to visit a food pantry earlier in the month and save some of their food stamps benefits to help stretch their food budget through the long weekend, for example.
So it’s probably a good idea to make a donation to your local food pantry?
The need for emergency food is sure to be high during the 10-day transition, so donations to the Idaho Food Bank and community pantries will be extremely helpful in the next few months.
(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is the segment from May 10.)