NEW ORLEANS — Families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits (SNAP) will be getting them earlier in March, according to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. 

Those who normally receive the benefits on between the 1st and 4th of the month will receive them on March 1, while those who normally receive them between the 5th and 14th of the month, will receive benefits on March 2. 

The move comes in an effort to close the gap for recipients who have been stretching the February benefits, which came early in January due to the threat of a government shutdown.

Recipients received the benefits on January 17, which was early for February.

Without the schedule change, the early issuance would have created a gap in benefits of up to 57 days.

"This extended period between SNAP issuances has been challenging for SNAP recipients, about 66 percent of whom are elderly, disabled or children," DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said.

Without the schedule change, the early issuance of February benefits in January would have created a gap in benefits of up to 57 days.

"This extended period between SNAP issuances has been challenging for SNAP recipients, about 66 percent of whom are elderly, disabled or children," DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said.

The DCFS said another shutdown in Washington would not affect the early March date of benefits.