Government Shutdown Could Affect Arizona Food Banks
As the partial government shutdown continues, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are either not at work or working without pay.
“We know that many families live paycheck to paycheck, and federal and state employees are no different, so we do anticipate as this shutdown drags on, we could see an increased number of clients visiting our food pantries,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks.
Rodgers also said if the shutdown continues for longer than 30 days, key nutrition assistance programs could experience funding gaps.
About 835,000 Arizonans use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Rodgers said December benefits haven’t been affected, and she predicts January benefits will be dispersed as usual.
“February benefits could be a problem so, likely in January, we will see some direction from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inform states on how to reduce benefits or make those payments for February,” she said.
Another concern is the one million Arizona children who particulate in free and reduced lunch programs. Schools are reimbursed for these meals, so some districts could be waiting longer for payments.
“In the short term, we’re not immediately concerned with public benefit programs, but in the long term, it could be a challenge,” Rodgers said.
During the holiday season, food banks already see an increased demand.