COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Thousands of El Paso County and Pueblo County families are at risk of missing out on their food stamp benefits for next month.
The El Paso County Department of Human Services announced Friday that it will be distributing February's SNAP benefits on Jan. 20. All necessary paperwork must be turned in by 3 p.m. on Jan. 15 to be eligible for food assistance in February.
The directive comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is attempting to get February's benefits to eligible recipients while there is still funding. With no end in sight for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the department is anticipating running out of funding after February.
"We have no idea what’s going to happen in March if the shutdown continues, so we’re asking people who receive economic assistance to make those programs they’re receiving help them last as long as possible," said Kristina Iodice, a spokesperson for the El Paso County Department of Human Service.
The tight deadline puts more than 2,000 families in El Paso County at risk of missing out on their benefits, the county told 11 News.
"As of this afternoon, we’re still missing documentation from more than 2,000 families, and if they don’t get that paperwork in, they’re not necessarily guaranteed funds. They’ll still be processed, and if there’s funding available they might get their February food assistance, but it’s not guaranteed," Iodice said.
Pueblo County says roughly 1,300 residents could be impacted.
The main El Paso County DHS office, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road, will have extended hours on Monday, Jan. 14. The third-floor office will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Services will be limited during these hours. Interviews will not be completed during this time, but EBT cards will be available.
In Pueblo County, the office on 201 W. 8th St. will be open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Paperwork will be accepted during that time; after hours, paperwork can be placed in a drop box at that location.
The county says cases that are current do not need to take action. SNAP funds will be distributed by Jan. 20 to those cases with completed files.
DHS says Colorado families receive about $55 million per month in SNAP benefits, mostly from federal funds.