CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People who receive food stamps in North Carolina will get next month's benefits by January 20, but they have to make the money last through the end of February.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) warned recipients that because of the government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture instructed states to distribute the funds early.

Normally, families would receive February benefits between February 3 and 21.

"We are working closely with county departments of social services and our federal partners to ensure participants and retailers have little to no interruption of FNS services due to the shutdown," said Tara Myers, NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Human Services. 

NCDHHS said it has funds for FNS, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). But money could run out after February if the shutdown continues.

FNS stands for Food and Nutrition Services, a federal food assistance program that allows low-income families to buy groceries.