SOUTHERN COLORADO – The partial government shutdown is affecting food benefits for more than 220,000 families in Colorado.
Department of Human Services office locations in El Paso and Pueblo County are working around the clock to try and minimize the impact, staying open through the weekend and extending their hours for families who need to file applications.
Duffi Frazier is a single mom with twins who relies on food benefits to make ends meet.
“They are very critical, you know, without that, they don’t eat much,” she said.
The state is requiring families receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits who would normally apply for redermination at the end of January to apply as soon as possible in order to secure them.
“i was panicked,” Frazier said when she realized her deadline was fast-approaching.
“Immediately gathered all my paperwork and everything and brought it down.”
DHS offices are even extending their hours to make it happen.
“Definitely not normal for us to have the office open on the weekends, to be open late on any weekday.”
In El Paso County, the deadline is Tuesday at 3 p.m.
2,000 eligible families haven’t submitted paperwork.
In Pueblo County, it’s Monday at 8 p.m. and 900 families haven’t been heard from.
Families whose benefits renew in February are in the clear.
But beyond that, it’s not so clear.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen if the government shutdown continues so we’re telling everyone who comes in for food assistance that make those dollars stretch as long as possible.”
Frazier is hoping the shutdown ends before it takes a toll on families like hers.
“It’s wearing on the American people, the people that need it the most, the poor.”
Pueblo County’s DHS spokesperson told me the number of families eligible for redetermination doesn’t necessarily reflect the need.
That’s because families can decide not to apply if they no longer need the benefits.
But families rely on these benefits need to take these deadlines seriously.
If you can’t go in person, you can fill out applications for redermination online, as well as new applications for food assistance.