Rockland County’s employees have once again gone above and beyond in the service of those most in need. Earlier this week we announced that most recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive their full February benefits early, due to the ongoing federal government shutdown.
This may not sound like much of an accomplishment but without our hardworking and dedicated team at the Department of Social Services (DSS) it would not have been possible. 15,000 Rockland residents receive just under $7 million a month in benefits. These benefits are certified by DSS on a rotating annual basis with around 1,250 clients being recertified every month.
In order for residents to have been eligible to receive their February benefits all February recertification needed to be completed by the evening of Tuesday, January 16, instead of their regular February 1st due date.
Employees of the Department of Social Services were redeployed from other tasks and worked considerable overtime to successfully complete the recertification process for Rockland residents.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has instructed states to issue full February benefits early. This not an “extra” or “bonus” benefit and households will not receive a second benefit for the month of February.
Since SNAP recipients will now receive their February benefits early. It is important that they budget accordingly considering the ongoing federal shutdown. SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger and making sure these people receive their benefits is critically important.
According to People to People there are around 30,000 people in Rockland dealing with food insecurity and 25% of them being children. That is 10% of our population in what is seen as an affluent county.
I want to commend Commissioner of Social Services Joan Silvestri and her entire team for doing everything possible to ensure that all SNAP recipients get their February benefits.
Let us never forget that none of us are immune from crisis no matter what your station in life. Our Department of Social Services and organizations like the Rockland Hunger Coalition and People to People are there to help. They have been a lifeline when desperation seemingly is near overwhelming. I urge local residents to find a way to reach out to those who may be in need during the federal government shutdown. If we all help just a little we can accomplish a great deal.