FOOD STAMPS PROTECTED DURING GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Federal officials say fallout from the government shutdown will not impact the food security of families already living on the edge in Kentucky and other states.
There were concerns that funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP could dry up after January, but the Department of Agriculture announced this week that it is working with states to issue February benefits earlier than usual.
However, Michael Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank, serving Central and Eastern Kentucky, says thousands of federal employees still are furloughed or working without pay, which could make it difficult for them to put food on the table.
“One would hope that those folks would get back to work quickly and not face that issue, but hunger is about economic resources, and when somebody is not getting paid, they are certainly increasing the risk of being hungry,” he states.
The USDA also said other nutrition assistance programs, including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for seniors and the Women, Infants and Children program or WIC will have sufficient funding to continue operations.
Halligan explains that SNAP provides a significant amount of assistance to more than 666,000 Kentuckians.
“An individual who receives SNAP benefits receives roughly 12 meals for every one meal that a food bank can provide,” he points out.
Halligan adds that local organizations are available to help anyone who is struggling with hunger.
“Oftentimes, someone who is hungry is afraid to ask for help,” he points out. “Please ask for help if you are hungry. Reach out to your local food bank. Reach out to a food pantry if you don’t know where that next meal will come from.”
Meanwhile, the White House eased fears about delayed income tax returns by directing the IRS to process refunds during the federal shutdown.
Halligan says it’s a bit of relief for lower-income working families who rely on tax refunds and credits.
By Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service