Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are doing without a paycheck during the partial government shutdown, but there are now growing concerns about the tens of millions of people who rely on the government for food assistance.
People who get food stamps got them at the beginning of January, but if the shutdown continues, they might not on the first of February. At the same time, local food banks are already seeing their federal help slipping away.
The folks at Bloomfield-based Foodshare know there are a lot of people who would go hungry without some help. A lot of them are part of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, what used to be called food stamps. SNAP is run by the Department of Agriculture, however, and that is one of the federal agencies currently shut down. That means more people will need their local food pantries.
“And programs like the one you see here today, the CSFP program, food for seniors, we don’t know if it’s going to exist next month,” said Foodshare President and CEO Jason Jakubowski. “It’s a very real problem.”
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It is also a big problem, considering Foodshare supplies food to 300 food pantries and soup kitchens in the greater Hartford area.
“The nutrition and food stamp and aid for seniors and commodity surplus programs all will be crippled and eventually ended,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. He toured Foodshare Tuesday morning to see for himself what could happen if the stalemate over President Donald Trump’s border wall continues.
“We can disagree about whether or not there should be a wall,” Blumenthal said. “In the meantime, this program should be fully funded, the appropriation should be made, and the government should be reopened.”
Foodshare has another concern about a prolonged government shutdown, and that is what if thousands of government workers don’t get paid for weeks and suddenly they need help from their local food banks in order to feed their families. All those new customers could put a real strain on those resources.