The partial government shutdown will be not be derailing a federal program that helps thousands of Union and Wallowa county families put food on the tables.

At least not for the next seven weeks.

The federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides funding for food to low income individuals and families across the United States, will be able to keep operating through the end of February if the government shutdown continues, according to Dawn Myers, Oregon’s SNAP director.

The state’s SNAP director stated, though, that should the shutdown continue past February, it is not known if there will be enough funding available for SNAP to continue operating.

“We are hopeful that (the shutdown) will be resolved by then,” Myers said.

Department of Human Services State statistics indicate that in November 2018, 4,855 people in 2,620 households in Union County received SNAP benefits. At total of 943 Wallowa County residents in 504 households received benefits over the same time period.

Union County residents received at total of $555,445 in benefits and Wallowa County residents received $105,588 in benefits during November.

Statewide, SNAP serves more than 600,000 residents in 350,000 households. It provides about $75 million monthly to needy Oregonians.

Chris Evans, community development director for DHS in Northeast Oregon, said many SNAP recipients are people who are working paycheck to paycheck and do not have savings to draw upon if a source of income or benefits is lost.

“A lot are working families,” Evans said. “They need a safety net for nutrition services.”

See complete story in Monday's Observer.