Millions of Americans could lose their food stamps, school lunches and nutrition for pregnant women and young children if the partial government shutdown continues into February, according to CNN.

The largest benefit at risk is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as #SNAP. Nearly 38.6 million Americans depended on food stamps in September, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s latest data.

The agency said last month that the program is funded through January, but it has only $3 billion in reserves to cover February, which is less than two-thirds of food stamps’ $4.8 billion cost in September.

The agency’s next move is not known but if the $3 billion reserve were distributed evenly, that would translate into a roughly $90 cut for the 19.4 million households that receive an average of $245 a month, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“That would put a huge hole in the budget every month for families that have very low incomes and would likely result in severe hardship and hunger,” said Dottie Rosenbaum, a senior fellow at the center.

A program that provides food assistance to more than 7 million low-income pregnant women, new mothers and young children is also threatened. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children also has federal funding to last only through January, according to the National WIC Association.

The average cost of a monthly WIC food package is just under $41 per person.

 Last week, the agency’s Food & Nutrition Service division said it intends to allocate all remaining carryover and unspent funds to state agencies.

Federal officials are working with state agencies to see what other unspent money might be available for reallocation. How much is available and how long the program can continue operating will vary by state, but these actions together would push the cutoff date into February, when a resolution will be dire.


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