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(INDIANAPOLIS) – The government shutdown means next month’s food stamp benefits are going out all at once, and more than two weeks early.

Normally, Indiana has a staggered schedule for food stamps — benefit cards are loaded over the course of 19 days. But the nearly 600,000 Hoosiers receiving benefits will all get February’s money next Saturday, because on Sunday, federal funding runs out, the latest casualty of the shutdown.

About 14,000 Hoosiers have applications still pending. Family and Social Services Administration family resources director Adrienne Shields says they need to get everything in by Monday to be sure it’ll get processed in time. She says the agency will do its best to process requests received later in the week, but can’t guarantee they’ll be complete in time for benefits on Saturday.

It’s unclear what happens if the shutdown ends before next weekend. And Shields won’t speculate on what happens if it hasn’t ended by March, when the next round of benefits is due.

Shields is warning recipients to budget carefully for the longer-than-normal gap in benefits — people at the end of the alphabet won’t get their next round until March 25, assuming the shutdown is over by then. She says agencies such as Gleaners Food Bank and Connect2Help may be able to offer budget counseling.

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