Funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) could soon run out if the federal government shutdown continues into march, and that means millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of veterans may soon find themselves without the food stamps they rely on to survive.
According to WMFE, a greater number of veterans in Florida rely on the SNAP program than in any other state. They redeem the food stamps monthly for fruits, vegetables, non-perishable goods, and other necessities at supermarkets and food pantries around the state. Demand for the benefits is growing among veterans, too.
Cristina Mercado, an administrator for the VA mobile food pantry in Baldwin Park, Florida, says the sign up sheet has never filled up faster than she saw this year. Donations from different nonprofit groups keep the pantry in operation, but they can only feed about 200 veterans, so latecomers may be denied.
“Within 2 hours, 153 people signed up on our list and within a day and a half the list was completely filled up,” Mercado told WMFE. “And then within a few days after that, our wait list also filled up. So this was the quickest [sign-up] so far.”
As NBC reports, the government spends an average of $4.8 billion per month on the SNAP program. During the shutdown, those funds are not being appropriated. There is currently only $3 billion in the program’s emergency reserves for February.
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Around 39 million people in 19 million households each receive about $245.28 in monthly food stamp benefits. With no money to pay them out and 95 percent of the Food and Nutrition Services staff on furlough, those expecting food stamps in February may be in for disappointment.
They may even be feeling the pinch already.
“We have been completely
“Because of an argument about a wall, I have to look people in the eyes every day and tell them they can’t pay for their food, for their children’s food.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains that “over 99 percent of SNAP retailers are able to accept benefits as usual,” PBS reports, but that could start to change very soon.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.