GREENSBORO, N.C. — Food stamp recipients are getting their benefits for the month of February early because of the government shutdown. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has told states to pay out benefits on or before Jan. 20. 

RELATED: NC Food Stamp Recipients To Get Benefits Early Due to Government Shutdown

The lump sum payment plan is very different than what normally happens.

Each month, SNAP beneficiaries get their benefits on a different day over the course of the month. 

Some get them on the 1st of the month, others the 2nd, all the way through the 28th of the month.

"We don't know what will happen in March, we do know that this allotment on January 20th will be the last until the government reopens,"  said Gregory Bush of Guilford County's Department of Social Services.

"You want to think about things like using coupons, you want to look for sales and you just want to keep those things in mind. And when you use those benefits really think about the essentials and those things you really need."

This change creates two big concerns.

First, SNAP beneficiaries know about this change and will they be able to budget for the month of February?

James Dunbar, associate director of outreach for Metropolitan Ministries in Florida, is concerned about just that. “Many families do rely on their SNAP disbursements, and if you get it early, you’re going to spend it early.”

The second concern: Are grocery stores and food banks ready for this SNAP lump sum benefits day?

Stephanie White, Food Pantry Coordinator for Open Door Ministries, says they've seen an increase in food demand as of late. White says normally, Open Door Ministries might serve anywhere between 10 to 15 families a day. But lately, they've been helping 18 or more families daily. 

"I don't know how we are going to budget right but we are going to just have to hang in there but it's going to be challenging, it's really going to be challenging," said Joana Deshield, a Greensboro mom who uses SNAP benefits.

RELATED: Open Door Ministries is Feeding More Families During Shutdown

Here's where you can donate food or money to help keep shelves stocked at food banks in the Triad:

Alamance County

  • Allied Churches, 206 N. Fisher St., Burlington
  • Salvation Army, 812 Anthony St., Burlington

Davidson County

  • Pastor’s Pantry, 307 N. State Street, Lexington

Davie County

  • A Storehouse for Jesus, 675 E. Lexington Road, Mocksville

Guilford County

  • Greensboro Urban Ministry, 305 W. Gate City Blvd.
  • Open Door Ministries: 400 N. Centennial Street, High Point

Randolph County

  • Community Outreach of Archdale and Trinity, 10607 U.S. 311, Archdale
  • Christians United Outreach Center, 135 Sunset Avenue, Asheboro

Rockingham County

  • Reidsville Outreach Center, 435 S.W. Market Street, Reidsville

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