RIVERSIDE – Some 114,000 families in Riverside County who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or CalFresh, could be impacted directly by the government shutdown.

The Riverside County Department of Social Services is encouraging the families, which include a total of 244,700 people, to stretch benefits as the government shutdown continues.

The partial federal shutdown, now in its 35th day, has left about 800,000 workers without paychecks.

Customers who receive benefits through SNAP or CalFresh, and were issued their February benefits early, by Wednesday Jan. 16, should plan their food budget to last through the end of February as the federal government shutdown continues, the Department of Social Services cautioned.

CalFresh customers who received benefits early will not receive another issuance in February. The next scheduled issuance will be in early March 2019. The early issuance does not apply to new applications, which will continue to be accepted and processed normally. If you have any further questions please call 1-877-410-8827.

Customers with an eligibility status report (SAR 7) or recertification due in January that is complete and received before January 31, 2019 will receive benefits in February as regularly scheduled, provided Federal Reserve Funds are available. The Department is collaborating with local community and faith-based organizations to assist in providing additional resources to CalFresh recipients impacted by the federal government shutdown.

CalFresh serves low-income families and individuals that meet certain income guidelines. CalFresh benefits help supplement recipients’ food budget and allow families and individuals to buy nutritious food. They could be some of the hardest hit as the shutdown wears on.

SNAP —called CalFresh in California and sometimes known as food stamps — is the largest food assistance program in the nation. Together with the school meals and WIC programs, CalFresh provides a nutrition safety net for low-income Californians. An average of 4.1 million Californians living in 2.0 million households received CalFresh benefits each month in federal fiscal year 2017, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Each participant received, on average, $136 a month toward household grocery costs. Overall, Californians received slightly more than $6.7 billion in federal SNAP benefits, or 10.6 percent of the total national spending. California has a small state-funded program ($63 million anticipated for state fiscal year 2017–18) to assist noncitizen legal permanent residents who are ineligible for federal benefits.

In 2015 (the most recent estimate), 70 percent of eligible Californians received benefits, including 57 percent of those in working families.

The shutdown could mean the difference between putting food on the table or not.