Senior citizens and residents living below the poverty line may soon struggle to meet their basic food needs because of the government shutdown.
If it stretches into the spring, one regional food bank that serves Hartford and Tolland County won’t have any new food coming in.
Foodshare in Bloomfield provides food to people who fall at 235 percent of the federal poverty line or below, and to the elderly through two programs -- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
“We have our orders in through March, but after that a) we don’t know whether we’re going to get the food and b) we do know that if the shutdown continues, we are not going to be reimbursed for storing and distributing that food,” said Jason Jakubowski, Foodshare’s president and CEO.
A primary concern that food providers have relates to the funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. That supports over 400,000 people in Connecticut that are food insecure. But if SNAP is compromised, then those people would have to look elsewhere.
Foodshare said that funding for SNAP will be limited should the shutdown extend into February – there’s a SNAP reserve fund that can be tapped into in February of about $3 billion, but it costs $5 billion a month for the United States Department of Agriculture to administer SNAP. That could force SNAP users to turn to Jakubowski’s food bank for sustenance.
“They are going to have to eat somewhere, so we imagine longer lines at our mobile food trucks and we imagine more pressure on our pantries to be able to deliver food to them,” Jakubowski said. That puts more pressure on us to deliver food to those pantries and to put more food on those mobile food trucks.”
For now, Jakubowski said the food bank will make every effort to distribute the rest of the food that it has – regardless of whether or not the government reimbursement comes through.