Last week the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that, despite the ongoing federal government shutdown, they will continue to fund federal nutrition programs through February.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is relieved that important benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as CalFresh), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and school meals will remain available for the time being to provide assistance to those who need it.
We are, however, deeply concerned about the fact that households in California already received their February CalFresh benefits today, January 15th. If the government does not reopen or specifically appropriate funds for nutrition assistance, there is not enough in federal reserves to cover the cost of March benefits.
If funds are available for March CalFresh benefits, families and individuals will still experience a significant gap in between their benefit payments. CalFresh typically provides families with about two to three weeks of food, and a third of all recipients already rely on food banks to make ends meet. In addition to creating a great amount of confusion, this prolonged gap between nutrition benefit payments will create an unprecedented strain on emergency food networks like ours.
For every meal our food bank provides, federal programs like CalFresh provide twelve.
Furthermore, as furloughed federal employees and contractors missed their first paycheck last week, we anticipate an increase in demand for food assistance from families and individuals who are experiencing hardship due to the shutdown. To help bridge the gap until the government reopens, furloughed workers and CalFresh households are eligible to receive food assistance from the Food Bank.
Unfortunately, during the shutdown the USDA will not be able to provide our food bank with funding to help offset the cost of distributing federally provided nonperishable goods into our community. This additional cost is not something anticipated in our budget and will be harder to cover over time.
The Food Bank is prepared to support the community through any crisis, and this shutdown is no different. However, we remain deeply concerned that demand will exceed our capacity if these critical programs do not continue to receive funds. Please call your members of Congress today and tell them to reopen the government immediately.
Take action and
- Call the Capitol switchboard and ask to be connected to your Representative or Senator (202) 224-3121
- Call the President (202) 456-1111
Submit a comment to the President: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/