There are 1.36 million PAN participants in Puerto Rico. (GFR Media)

The Puerto Rico Department of Family Affair tries to define what will happen with Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN, in Spanish) funds in February if the US government partial shutdown extends beyond January.

Just like in other US jurisdictions, if the federal shutdown extends beyond this month, doubts over funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) -which administers the Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN)- to cover PAN arise.

In written statements, Secretary of Family Affairs Glorimar Andújar said that the service is covered until January.

Andújar said that participants have already started to receive January funds. These include regular funds from packages such as special disaster relief funds that will be granted until March.

Without further additional details, the Secretary added that they will continue conversations with officials from the federal program to ensure the continuity of services and nutrition assistance for the participants.

It remains to be seen if the agency could receive the approval to use other federal funds it has received from the USDA to compensate for the lack of payments, until the federal budget dispute is resolved.

It is a difficult situation since those who make such decisions at USDA might not be working due to the shutdown.

Such concerns are also reflected in the United States. According to media reports, millions of people might be affected by payment reductions –and even suspensions- if they don´t settle the dispute soon.

There are 1.36 million PAN participants in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Leticia Jover, Housing Department spokeswoman, said that they have enough funds to pay federal program subsidies such as Section 8 and public housing.

It is not clear what will happen if the shutdown extends until March.

Services affected by the shutdown

Amid the dispute between President Donald Trump and Congress over the US government budget, 25 percent of the government has been affected.

Some of the services on the island that have affected are those of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), since the period to file tax papers is already starting.

Some functions of USDA have been suspended including several farmer assistance programs; and there is one employee, from the US Geological Survey, working on the water quality "critical monitoring", said David Giamellaro, president of the Puerto Heads of Agencies Association.

The Small Business Administration (SBA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have also reduced their functions.

"In addition to the services affected, it is unfortunate because thereare many Puerto Rican families who will not know how to pay for food and medicine," said Giamellaro, who indicated that, of the 14,000 federal employees on the island, 4,500 employees are not working.

Meanwhile, the San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal Castles in San Juan closed yesterday after the National Park Service did not accept to extend an agreement for the Puerto Rico government to continue paying for their operation.

Yesterday, Resident Commissioner in Washington Jenniffer González sent a letter to the director of the agency requesting him to reconsider that decision.

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