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Food bank is prepared to feed those affected by government shutdown

Food bank is prepared to feed folks affected by government shutdown

With the partial government shutdown stretching into its 18th day, families relying on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits funded by the federal government might be wondering if they'll continue to see the support they need.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary Sonny Perdue says they've made arrangements through February.

Perdue says the resolution expiring in December already funded SNAP benefits through January, with a provision to fund further obligations within 30 days of expiring.

To make the deadline they're distributing SNAP benefits a little earlier this month, loading EBT cards before Sunday, January 20.

He says expediting distributions won't affect new applicants, and those intending to sign up won't forego benefits if they file after existing accounts are processed.

RELATED INFORMATION: Calculate your family's eligibility for SNAP benefits

The USDA says if the shutdown lasts longer than that, they'll make sure people are fed, though they couldn't specify how that might look.

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) representative Kelly Stowe says SNAP benefits are federally funded, but the actual money is left for the states to distribute.

At least through the end of January.

"Obviously we're very concerned about what [a disruption] would mean for our clients," Stowe said. " We're hoping it doesn't come to that. We don't want people in a situation where they're having to choose between paying their electric bill or buying groceries."

Area food banks told Action News they're ready to pick up the slack.

Tri-Cities Food bank executive director Tim Sullivan says they're ready for whatever happens.

"Whether this goes on for the rest of the month," Sullivan explained. "Or the rest of the year. We hope not, but we want to make sure that folks know, 'You're going to be taken care of'."

He says feeding people is what his team does every day, and thanks to a generous community the Kennewick warehouse is full to capacity.

"Blessings from all around." he said. "This is what we do in the Tri-Cities, this is what we do. We take care of our people."

The donation-based non-profit's director says no one will go hungry, but if the shut down drags ion for months they're going to need a little extra help re-stocking.

"It's going to deplete our shelves, so anything you can bring in now is even of more value," he said. "Anyone that has food in your pantry that you're not quite sure what to do with, bring it down to one of your local food banks."

Stowe with DSHS says she hopes it doesn't come to that.

"At this point in time there've been no impacts to services," she said. "Our hope is that there is no disruption to services for our clients. If there was an end to the shut-down that would be beneficial to everyone."

If this is your first time using the Tri-Cities Food Bank, Sullivan says there are a few ways to contact them.

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