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About 220,000 in Colorado could lose food stamps because of shutdown

Posted at 7:01 AM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 09:01:10-05

DENVER, Colo. — Thousands of people could lose their food stamp benefits due to the government shutdown.

“It’s a sad situation," said Rachel Glassner, a SNAP recipient. "There is going to be a lot of people affected by this. You know, a lot of single parents that have children. A lot of elderly. What do we do?”

Denver Human Services (DHS) said 3,900 people are scheduled to re-certify their income and eligibility for SNAP. The Department of Agriculture cannot fund SNAP past Jan. 21, so they are giving benefits early. That meant that the deadline to re-certify was pushed up by a week.

“I had been reading about the government shutdown and how we might not get our benefits for next month, so I thought, 'I’ll be OK. We got until the 21st. I’ll be fine.' But then when I checked my voicemail — I was not going to be fine if I didn’t get here," Glassner said. "So yeah, I got pretty lucky."

Glassner is just one of thousands who rushed to DHS to get their paperwork done on time. The office opened early and closed late at three locations on Monday to help people make the new deadline.

“I would have been without groceries and I wouldn’t tell anybody. I’d do a lot of fasting,” said Carol Marchese, a SNAP recipient.

DHS staff said they won't be able to fund SNAP past February if the shutdown continues. If that happens, 220,000 Coloradans who receive SNAP could be out of assistance.

“If the federal government shutdown lasts through February and runs into March, we may not be able to issue food benefits at all,” said Julie Smith with DHS.

People will start getting their February benefits early on Jan. 16. It has to last throughout February. And possibly longer.