Amid the government shutdown, the roughly 730,000 New Jersey residents who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, aka food stamps) will receive their full February benefits early. The benefits are being issued today.

A provision in the budget bill, which expired Dec. 21, allows the federal government to make certain payments up to 30 days after the budget’s end. Families will need to budget to ensure the benefits stretch through February.

We are joining with the New Jersey Department of Human Services in asking your help to spread the word about this. Please share the following flyers with your networks, clients and on social media.

SNAP Flyer — English

SNAP Flyer — Spanish

It is uncertain what will happen to SNAP benefits in March. If the shutdown continues, millions of low-income children, parents, elderly people and people with disabilities could have basic food assistance cut significantly in March and receive nothing in April, according to the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities (CBPP).

Meanwhile, child nutrition programs, including school and afterschool meals, have funding to operate through March, according to the USDA. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has prior-year funding, which USDA is providing to states to pay February benefits.

The House has passed legislation to reopen the government that is nearly identical to bills that the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier approved on a broad bipartisan basis, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to allow a vote on that measure.

In the days ahead, the House is expected to try to pass four major appropriations bills that the full Senate earlier passed, including appropriations for the Department of Agriculture. Senator McConnell has indicated, however, that he will not allow votes on these bills either, according to CBPP.

Congressional leaders have a responsibility to step up, re-open the government and ensure that the millions of children and families who rely on SNAP and child nutrition programs do not go hungry.

Here’s the full run-down of the status of USDA programs during the shutdown.