CINCINNATI — Hamilton County is trying to help 100,000 food assistance recipients get through the government shutdown by providing February payments early.
Job & Family Services Director Moira Weir is hoping the recipients spread out the benefits so they last until March.
“It's the same payment they would've gotten in February but they're getting it early," Weir said. "We want folks to know that is not a bonus payment - it's an actual payment they'll hopefully be able to manage for that potential two-month period."
About one in six Hamilton County residents need food assistance each month to help meet their families’ needs, Weir said.
"Most of our families are working two or three jobs and are dependent on this to help meet the needs of their family, to help them eat throughout the month," Weir said.
That includes Patricia Brumley, who has been receiving monthly food assistance for 20 years.
"It is crucial. If I do not get my food stamps every month, then I would barely eat if at all," Brumley said.
Brumley said she knows she'll be able to stretch early assistance to March because she doesn't have kids. But she’s worried about families.
"Middle of February, mark my words, there's going to be such a shortage of families trying to find a way to eat and to survive," she said.
And the housing situation will just make things worse.
"Not only will they not have food at the end of next month if the government doesn't open back up. they're going to be looking for a place to live,” Brumley said. “Oh my goodness! It can go on and on. It's a scary situation for people."
JFS plans to educate recipients on how to make sure they use their benefits appropriately so they last.
Hamilton County says other programs, including Medicaid and child care funding, have not been affected by the shutdown so far.