“We worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday and are continuing to work on the applications,” said Otero County Human Services Director Donna Rohde Monday about the need to expedite February recertifications for food assistance.
“Out of our pool of 200 to 220 receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, all but 81 have turned in their applications. We only have three in process, and they will be ready by noon."
Rohde said her staff attempted to contact by phone recipients who are due for recertification next month.
"We got a lot of no answers when we were calling on the weekend," she said.
Other individuals on SNAP will have their February benefits loaded early, by Jan. 20.
This is not extra funding. Rather, it's an early distribution of February benefits.
"To be clear, the early release of benefits is not additional funding," the Colorado Department of Human Services said on its website. "This effort is intended to get February benefits to eligible recipients before current funding for the program lapses as a result of the partial federal government funding.
"If the federal government shutdown continues, benefits may not be available after February."
Colorado families receive approximately $55 million per month in SNAP benefits.
Furloughed federal government employees who are in need are also encouraged to apply for SNAP.
Human Services urges federal employees and contractors make their applications now. The department will continue to work on outreach to be sure all who are eligible are covered.
There will be no other benefits authorized for February, so Rohde anticipates a rush on all local food banks, such as the Associated Charities in La Junta. She asks that everyone try to help the food banks have enough food on hand.