BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) – (12/27/18) The fifth day of the government shutdown brought cuts to nearly all employees overseeing federal food stamps.
By Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was down to just five percent of the staff in office. The department oversees food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Child Nutrition program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
With the future of those programs in limbo, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank CEO Mike Manning said he is keeping a close eye on Washington D.C.
“A lot of people are one paycheck away from being in the situation of needing food assistance. It’s a challenge for us to get people to realize how broad the issue is,” Manning said.
On Wednesday, USDA tweeted, “During the lapse in government funding, USDA will maintain as many of our services for as long as we can, using existing resources.” That entails SNAP benefits running through January and Child Nutrition programs will continue into February. However, the future of other programs, like WIC, remains uncertain.
In the event of program funding running out, states will turn to local resources such as the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. With the already low supply, Manning said the agency would have trouble taking on that role.
“It’s going to be an even more daunting challenge for us going into the first of the year if we have to supplement more food from people who are already receiving supplements from other resources that may not be there anymore,” Manning said.
With that concern in mind, Manning said he remains hopeful that lawmakers will strike a deal before funding for the programs runs out.