Will the shutdown impact future food and nutrition benefit programs?


WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — More than 13,000 households in New Hanover County receive food and nutrition services through the Department of Social Services but, the government shutdown could soon impact this program.

As the longest government shutdown in history continues, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human services is urging local communities to use February resources now.

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Beth Gaglione is the branch director at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. It provides food to more than 100 food pantries across Brunswick, New Hanover, Columbus and Pender counties.She says the food bank has prepared for an event like the shutdown.

“Even if the lapse in government funding went on for a 6 month time frame because we have some conservative folks, who prepare our budget, we’re prepared for that,” said Gaglione.

But, there will be a demand for food if the shutdown continues. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is urging communities to use February’s food resources now.

New Hanover County spokeswoman Jennifer Loeper says funding is not an issue right now.

“Our social services department, our public health department… they’re all operating as normal at this time,” said Loeper. “There are no impacts to our service delivery or operations and funding has been extended through February.”

But, if things don’t change, the state warns funding for these programs could run out after February.

“If we were to go much further into the month of February and it impacted the SNAP program then,we would see immediate effects at our food pantry that are very large and looming,” said Gaglione.

With more than 13,000 families relying on food stamps, they might have to rely on the food bank, if the money runs out.

“We will continue to support the community with the food we receive, which we don’t expect to stop but, if it does, that could have a financial impact on our food bank,” said Gaglione.

Gaglione says for every 1 person served at a food pantry with support from the food bank, the food SNAP program is serving an additional 75 people.

But, the NCDHHS reports they are working with federal partners and retailers to have little affect on these services.