The partial government shutdown ended last month, but many families and food pantries are still feeling the effects.
For many families, the government shutdown triggered the very first time they’ve ever had to seek help from a food pantry. The food pantries weren’t used to that high demand after the holidays. Now they’re trying to restock.
“Families still trying to get back on their feet that are federal employees, whether that’s federal contract workers who may not be receiving back pay or many individuals who rely on SNAP benefits also known as food stamps to help them get through the month,” said Catherine Shick, community relations manager for the Food Bank of Western New York.
Catherine Shick says agencies are seeing a high demand now as those who receive snap benefits are also trying to fill in the gaps. The food bank had special distributions for federal workers affected by the shutdown last month. She says there was a need across all four counties they serve — Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua.
“Many families do spend their SNAP benefits within the first 3 weeks of receiving them so we do expect a lot of individuals turning to charitable food assistanct to help get that food onto the tables for their families,” said Shick.
The food bank works with more than 300 hundred agencies throughout western New York, including the Resurrection Life Food Pantry. Kim Reynolds says they saw more families during the shutdown who receive SNAP benefits.
“It put the scare into the folks that we serve. We serve a vulnerable population of seniors and children along with working families that rely on us to fill the gaps,” said Kim Reynolds, director at the Resurrection Life Food Pantry.
Right now the food bank needs shelf foods such as canned vegetables and fruits, pastas, whole grains and snacks for children. They’re also asking for items such as diapers, baby formula and even toilet paper.
“For so many in out community it’s just one missing paycheck that may require you to need food assistance.” said Shick.
The Food Bank of Western New York also accepts financial donations.They have set aside some grant money to help local food pantries.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said all food stamp recipients will get their March benefits a week ahead of schedule.