Friday, January 25, 2019

Food banks see increased demand because of shutdown

Food pantries all over the nation are seeing increased demand because of the season and the partial federal shutdown. That's an ominous sign for how the nation's most food insecure will fare if the shutdown continues and money runs out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Mary Meehan reports for Ohio Valley Resource.

Not all the increased demand at food pantries is from SNAP recipients though; some is from furloughed federal employees who are having a hard time making ends meet after a month without pay, according to Mike Halligan, CEO of God's Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Kentucky. "Wintertime is one of the greatest risks for people who are food insecure," Halligan told Meehan. "Electricity costs increase because you are lighting your home for more waking hours in the day. When kids aren’t in school because school is closed for weather or over a holiday, that food budget actually gets stretched further."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave SNAP recipients their February allotments early, on Jan. 20, as a legal workaround during the shutdown. The program is fully funded through February, but only has enough money in reserve to pay part of March's benefits for the nation's 3.86 million SNAP recipients, Chuck Abbott reports for Successful Farming.

Food pantries won't be able to provide enough help for the hungry if SNAP runs out, Halligan warned. "For every one meal that a food bank is able to distribute, SNAP provides 12," he told Meehan. "There’s no way that food banks and private support and other sources of public support can replace SNAP. There just aren’t enough resources to provide 12 times what the food bank distributes if SNAP stops."

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