We are now in the second week of the government shutdown and impacts are being felt across the country. While we are hoping for a speedy resolution, Good Shepherd Food Bank and hunger relief organizations throughout Maine are bracing for continued gridlock and deeper impacts on our work.
The shutdown is currently affecting anti-hunger programs in the following ways:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the
food stamp program, will continue as usual through October. SNAP does
not have statutory authority to continue distributing benefits after
October, but there are some contingency funds that could be used, if the
Retailers should and will continue to accept
SNAP benefits. The USDA does have resources on hand to process those
benefit transactions. People can also still sign up for SNAP benefits
during the shutdown. SNAP applications are processed here in Maine, so
eligible clients can visit My Maine Connection to prescreen and sign up.
TEFAP and CSFP
Food Bank administers two USDA commodity food programs, TEFAP for
low-income families and CSFP for seniors. We will not be granted
additional funding during the shutdown, but existing TEFAP and CSFP
inventory can be used and we will continue to distribute these products
to our partner food pantries.
Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) program was initially thought to only
have enough funds for benefits in the short term, due to a combination
of a USDA contingency fund as well as careful budgeting by state WIC
authorities, benefits for WIC will continue for the month of October.
USDA has no legal authority to continue providing benefits under the
Women, Infants and Children program during a shutdown, but states are
able, with the help of the USDA contingency fund, to have the money and
legal authority to fund the assistance program for the rest of the
Programs including the National School Lunch Program and School
Breakfast will continue for the immediate weeks following the government
shutdown.Through a combination of federal and state carryover funds
from fiscal year 2013, schools should be able to continue serving meals
For more information on USDA Food & Nutrition Services programs, you can view the FNS Shutdown Plan here: http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-fns-shutdown-plan.pdf
Other programs not administered through USDA, including Meals on
Wheels and Head Start, also depend on federal funding and may soon start
to feel the effects of the shutdown. While political brinkmanship
continues in Washington, Maine's most vulnerable citizens suffer the
consequences. Look for updates as the situation evolves in the coming
days and weeks.