Food pantries, like this one in San Francisco, are helping government workers who haven't been paid in weeks.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

States warn money about to run out for food stamps during government shutdown

As the government shutdown enters its record 27th day, families across the country are fighting to make ends meet.

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Some local families are already battling with anxiety about how they're going to put food on the table, while desperately hoping for the shutdown to end.

My concern is what will we eat? What will the children eat?” asked Cynthia Hayes, a parent of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools student. “Paycheck to paycheck and that’s the worst.”

Families already in need are facing another challenge during the shutdown. Money for February will be loaded onto EBT cards in the next few days, at least two weeks earlier than usual, but still has to last through the end of February.

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“The food stamps help me a great deal,” Hayes said. “We do fine with bread and water but the children they ain't having none of that."

In North Carolina, there are more than 650,000 households receiving food stamps under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Recipients are being told to budget the money and plan ahead because if the government shutdown isn’t resolved soon, officials say there may not be any money for SNAP benefits in March.

>> Related: School system will reduce lunch menus due to shutdown

“What are they going to do when they run out?” Hayes asked. “I’m just praying and hoping that things resolve very quickly because we’re in for hell.”

Sherri Miller, a school social worker at Thomasboro Academy, said the majority of families she serves receive some type of government aid.

“At this school, 90 or better, we’re completely free lunch school,” she said.

Miller said she stocks her office with uniforms and supplies to help.

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“Most of my families have been evicted. They have had some kind of major setback,” she said.

Miller said a number of parents tell her the shutdown is hitting them hard.

“How am I going to make it next month? What does this mean for me and my household?” Miller said.

Thomasboro Academy has a food pantry available for families, and Miller said free lunch will not stop.

The Department of Health and Human Services says that despite the partial government shutdown, people can still apply for food stamps online.

>> Related: Trump administration moves to tighten work requirements for food stamps

“The funds are there, they will be there and we have so much community involvement that it is not a concern,” Miller said.

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