Food Bank Boosts Distribution As Shutdown Continues

Jan 11, 2019

Credit Feeding South Dakota

Officials with Feeding South Dakota say the partial government shutdown impacts their operations. 

The impasse between President Trump and Congressional Democrats may lead to the suspension of food stamps for March. 

The supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, is administered by the USDA -- which is closed right now.  SDPB’s Andrew Spangler reports.

Leadership from the non-profit food bank Feeding South Dakota says that food insecure households will have to stretch available resources until the shutdown ends. Funding for the SNAP program will not be available after February causing many families to go without aid. Matt Gassen is the CEO of Feeding South Dakota. He says the shutdown’s impact on food distribution will only grow over time.

“In the state of South Dakota there is something north of $10.3 million in SNAP benefits used in the state each month. We believe that it would take something in the neighborhood of five million pounds of donated food to replace the loss of that $10.3 million in SNAP benefits. Feeding South Dakota currently does approximately about 1.2 million pounds of food distribution every month. So, we would be looking at something north of four times, five times more product distribution needing to be done if we were to try to fill that entire SNAP gap. You know, that’s probably not feasible,” Gassen says. 

Gassen says Feeding South Dakota plans to double its distribution during the shutdown. He says with no end in sight, Feeding South Dakota is about to take on the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.

“These families are going to struggle mightily to be able to navigate the waters of this crisis. You know, where are they going to get their money from? What are they not going to pay to be able to use dollars to buy food. We still happen to be in the winter months in South Dakota and so… ‘Let’s not pay the heat bill, and buy groceries’ and then what happens when the heat gets turned off, or the electricity? Or…what happens if the car breaks down and it’s our only transportation to get to and from a job…you know, I think their lives, which are already incredibly complicated, will just be that much more complicated if this shutdown continues," Gassen says. 

Gassen says he hopes the situation can be resolved before conditions escalate.