Statement from the Department of Human Services Regarding the Potential Federal Government Shutdown

Friday, September 25, 2015 | 04:14pm

Nashville- SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) will not be available for use by recipients if the federal government shuts down. The Tennessee Department of Human Services is over 90% federally funded and a federal government shutdown will impact operations.

During the last federal government shutdown in 2013, federal SNAP benefits were not immediately affected.  Unlike the last federal government shutdown in 2013, DHS has been informed by our federal partners that USDA does not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits to continue in October if a shutdown occurs. USDA has advised that SNAP benefits will not be available for use on October 1, 2015 or shortly thereafter, if there is a government shutdown resulting in a lapse of federal funding. This includes any SNAP benefit that is left on an EBT card from a prior month.

According to the USDA, they would have limited resources to finance October SNAP benefits nationwide and would be required by law to ensure that the USDA does not incur obligations for which funding is not available. This would require USDA to take steps, including the de-authorization of retailers in the first several days of the month to prevent SNAP benefits from being redeemed during an appropriations lapse.

Although the Department is optimistic that the shutdown will not occur, we are doing our due diligence to ensure we are prepared in the event a shutdown does occur. We do not have any information regarding TANF/Families’ First benefits at this time. These funds may or may not be impacted. Depending on the duration of a potential shutdown, SNAP benefits may or may not continue to be impacted after October. DHS is studying to what extent there may or not may be an impact on DHS staff if a federal government shutdown occurs.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is continuing to monitor the situation closely and we will provide updates as soon as information is available. DHS will put updated information on our website at

The Department of Human Services mission is to offer temporary economic assistance, work opportunities, and protective services to improve the lives of Tennesseans. Learn more at  


Contact: Stephanie Jarnagin