INDIANAPOLIS | Hoosier food stamp recipients will have January benefit paid in two equal installments as Indiana transitions to a distribution schedule spread across 19 days each month, instead of just the first 10 days.
State lawmakers this year ordered the change at the request of grocery store owners who said it is difficult to maintain adequate stock and offer specials when food stamp distributions, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, come all at once.
Under the new schedule, effective in February, food stamp payments will be transferred to electronic benefits cards every other day between the 5th and the 23rd of the month.
In January, recipients will get half their monthly benefit on their current payment date and the other half on their new payment date, which is set based on the first letter of a recipient's last name.
There is no change in the total monthly benefit, which averages $290 per household. Approximately 1 in 7 Hoosiers receive food stamps.
"The key message here is: plan ahead," said Jim Gavin, spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which administers the federally funded SNAP program.
FSSA has already sent two mailings to food stamp recipients detailing the SNAP payment date change. Over the next week it also will spread word of the change through bus and radio advertisements, online videos and automated telephone calls.
Overall, the state will spend some $400,000 to promote and implement the SNAP date change. Half that cost is expected to be reimbursed by the federal government.