CINCINNATI — The United States Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday it would continue to fund federal food assistance programs through February despite ongoing governmental gridlock, easing Freestore Foodbank’s worries about a potential influx of clients in need.
If the 19-day government shutdown continues past the end of the month, however, families that rely on initiatives such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) could still find themselves depending on local programs to make ends meet where the government can’t.
“Most of the families that we’re serving have a lot of things that are impacting their lives, whether it’s transportation, childcare, housing, rental assistance or utility assistance,” Freestore CEO Kurt Reiber said. “When you throw on food and SNAP benefits on top of that, that really causes a dramatic, ‘What’s going to happen next?’ type of situation for many of those families.”
Those families can continue to collect their federal benefits for now, he said. Many will still come to Freestore to “bridge the gap” between what they receive from jobs and the government and what they need to survive.
The shutdown is a consequence of President Donald Trump’s clashes with Democrats over his demand they agree to dedicate billions to constructing his long-sought southern border wall, but its impact extends well beyond the banks of the Rio Grande.
\While the government remains only partially open, federal employees work without pay and federal programs — including SNAP, school meals and the Child and Adult Care Food Program — run on fumes and emergency funds.