Millions to Lose Food Assistance If Government Shutdown LastsTop Stories

January 08, 2019 12:18
Millions to Lose Food Assistance If Government Shutdown Lasts

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Millions could lose food assistance if the federal government remains partially shut down for several more months, as President Donald Trump suggested Friday.

Under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more than 38 million Americans receive monthly food benefits which is oftentimes known as food stamps and is possibly the federal government's most important anti-poverty program. If Trump keeps the government shut down through February, benefits could stop.

Run by the United States Department of Agriculture, the program is one of the federals that shut down earlier this month as part of Trump's strategy to force Congress to pay for a giant wall on the Mexican border. If the shut down continues, it will be one of the dozens of programs, including tax credit refunds for the working poor that will be disrupted.

The USDA has said only that it has enough leftover money to pay for January's benefits. Its reserve fund amounts to less than the total projected cost of February's benefits. After February, it is possible there would be nil. Other food programs that serve seniors, mothers, and children could also be affected.

A shutdown lasting many months or a year would be a monolithic policy experiment. Pulling food benefits from millions of people would probably result in a lot more hunger.

Since earlier this week, local media has been covering the shutdown's possible threat to food assistance. According to the report from Atlanta Journal-Constitution, more than a million low-income Georgians could lose their benefits in February.

An official with Alabama's food aid program told a local TV station they expected more guidance from the USDA at the end of the month.

The food banks in Arizona are distressed about a surge in demand if the government shutdown continues into February.

-Sowmya Sangam

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