Government shutdown could impact SNAP, local food banks

Lowcountry Food Bank. (Source: WMBF News)
Lowcountry Food Bank. (Source: WMBF News)(WMBF)
Published: Jan. 8, 2019 at 4:47 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The government shutdown continues to impact people around the country, including families right here in South Carolina.

There’s growing concern it could affect some of the 37,000 people in Horry County who rely on assistance for their basic needs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has promised eligible households will receive monthly supplemental nutritional assistance program, or SNAP, benefits for the month of January, but come February there’s no guarantee.

The latest numbers released Monday by the South Carolina Department of Social Services show, for the month of December alone, more than 17,000 families in Horry County relied on the SNAP program, totaling roughly $4.6 million in benefits.

Staff with the Lowcountry Food Bank said if the government shutdown continues through this month, people who depend on SNAP to put food on their tables will face hardships.

“The supplemental nutrition program is the supplement to help bridge that gap. If that were to go away, they wouldn’t have assistance to bridge that gap and we would have more demand placed on our food banks, our food pantries, our food kitchens, because people still need to eat in order to be productive members of society,” said Barbara Miller, agency relations coordinator for the Lowcountry Food Bank.

The Lowcountry Food Bank receives some of its food from the TEFAP program, which is federally funded. Miller said funding for that is guaranteed through March.

“I would say that’s a large portion of what we distribute for our agencies that are USDA certified. That’s a significant amount for them,” said Miller.

Miller added they’re preparing to help should the SNAP program feel impacts from an ongoing government shutdown. She said they’re working to get more volunteers to help turn around donated products to be distributed to the public.

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