The Department of Health and Social Services is announcing that it will issue all April food benefits on April 13 rather than staggering them across a three-week period.

Delaware will return to its normal staggered benefit issuance schedule with the May distribution.

Ray Fitzgerald, director of DHSS’ Division of Social Services, which manages the food benefit program in Delaware, said Delaware’s 136,000 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program clients will have their April benefits loaded onto their electronic benefit transfer cards April 13, ensuring timely issuance of food benefits.

DSS typically staggers food benefits between the second and 22nd or 23rd day of each month. The partial federal government shutdown, which started in late December 2018 and ended in late January, led to the original disruption in the distribution of food benefits. Because federal funding was uncertain beyond a certain date, the shutdown led to the early issuance of February benefits to Delaware clients Jan. 17. Since then, Delaware and other states have been trying to limit the number of days between issuances to reduce the hardship on individuals and families. Delaware clients received their March food benefits March 4.

Clients will be notified of the early issuance through letters to each household, contacts through retail outlets and community partners, social media posts and other means.

The Division of Social Services notified grocery and convenience stores of the April 13 issuance date of SNAP benefits, said Fitzgerald, so they can stock additional food items and increase staffing as needed. The division also is working to get out the message to community partners, including legislators, State Service Centers, the Food Bank of Delaware, senior centers, places of worship and other organizations.

Clients in Delaware who have questions about the balances on their EBT cards can check them at connectebt.com or call 800-526-9099.