WASHINGTON, D.C. – Evidence has surfaced indicating the Obama administration was prepared to suspend all food-stamp payments beginning Nov. 1 in a political move to pressure Republicans in Congress to reopen the government and agree to continued deficit spending.
On Oct. 11, while the government shutdown was in force, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, FNS, notified state directors of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, commonly known as the food stamp program, to suspend transmission of food stamp funds to the Electronic Benefit System, or EBS.
If the Obama administration were willing to issue such a directive in October, will it do so again when the debate over stopping the government and raising the debt ceiling is scheduled to resume in Congress in about three months?
The USDA shutdown letter, dated Oct. 11, first appeared on the website of the Crossroads Urban Center in Salt Lake City and was confirmed as authentic by the Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City in a report published on its website Oct. 14.
“This is going to create a huge hardship for the people we serve here in our food pantry,” Bill Tibbits, the associate director at Crossroads Urban Center told the station.
“What this means if there’s not a deal, if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to get the federal government back up and running, in Utah about 100,000 people won’t get food stamp benefits,” Tibbits said.
“In other words, tens of thousands of Utah families may not be able to feed their children come November,” the station concluded.
The Obama administration instructed state directors of the SNAP program to take the steps even though the likely consequences were that low-income households with children might not be able to buy food, with the added risk that a sudden suspension of food stamp payments might incite unrest across the nation.
Michigan state budget director John Nixon expressed his alarm to ABC 10 in Ishpeming, Mich. He said that also on the slate for suspension in the case of a government shutdown extending beyond Oct. 15 were food programs in the Woman, Infants and Children feeding program, or WIC, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF, cash-assistance program and the school-lunch program.
Nixon told ABC 10 that he expected WIC would be the first of the nutrition programs to be affected by the government showdown, with Michigan having to suspend nutritional benefits and education for around 200,000 Michigan women and children.
Approximately 20 percent of all American households on food stamps, amounting to 23.1 million households and 47.6 million individuals were recorded to be on the SNAP program as of July.
As WND reported yesterday, chaos erupted in two Louisiana Wal-Mart stores on Oct.14 when a temporary power outage caused the EBT to malfunction.
The computer glitch that affected food stamp shoppers in Louisiana evidently spread across 17 states, leaving millions without “funding” with which to purchase food.
WND also reported yesterday that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the benefit increase granted by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to help people adversely affected by the recession is scheduled to expire Nov. 1.
The USDA projects that the average monthly food stamp payment of approximately $272 per household will decline in November by $36 for a family of four.
This week, the Federal Business Opportunities website posted a notice that the Federal Protective Service of the Department of Homeland Security was seeking to spend $80 million on hiring private armed guards to protect IRS and other government buildings in upstate New York during evidently anticipated “public demonstrations” and “civil disturbances.”
While DHS did not identify why the request was made, the agency is preparing for potential public protests against the IRS and other government facilities in upstate New York.
According to estimates drawn from the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget, approximately 83 percent of government operations continued, with the shutdown affecting only approximately 17 percent of the federal funds scheduled to be spent during the time the “shutdown” was operative.