USDA: Food stamps will be available through February

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(CNN) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responding to concerns about food assistance shortages during the partial government shutdown.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday that food stamps will be available through February.

Funding was initially available only through January, but officials are using a provision to make those benefits available longer.

Perdue said that should provide enough time for lawmakers and President Donald Trump to agree on a spending bill to end the shutdown.

The USDA won’t need to draw on its $3 billion in reserves for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – the formal name for food stamps – to extend the program into February.

The department is now working with states to issue February’s food stamp benefits, which are expected to total $4.8 billion, by Jan. 20.