What the Shutdown Means for Programs that Address Hunger and Poverty
-This update is from Bread for the World
A government shutdown means there are no additional federal funds to support programs such as WIC, SNAP (formerly food stamps), Head Start, low-income housing assistance, and international poverty-focused development assistance. For the first few days, a shutdown doesn’t have disastrous consequences for most anti-hunger programs. However, the longer the shutdown continues, the more harm is done to vulnerable populations, both in the United States and abroad.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is the program most immediately affected by the shutdown. Continued services, food benefits, and program administration depends on how individual states react and how long the shutdown lasts. Most WIC centers appear able to continue to operate through the end of October, but as the shutdown continues, the consequences become more dramatic. Some families with young children are also facing potential Head Start closures —a small number of Head Start centers are already feeling the impact of the government shutdown, primarily those with grants that expired on Oct. 1. The Wall Street Journal reported that 3,200 children in Florida, Connecticut, Alabama, and Mississippi have already been left without Head Start and additional programs are expected to close as well.
SNAP households will continue to receive benefits through October. There is some contingency funding available to support the program, but it is unclear what will happen if the shutdown lasts more than a month.
For the time being, some programs within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will continue to operate using residual funds. However, uncertainly about funding will eventually hinder diplomacy and development and deplete U.S. flexibility to respond to national security imperatives. More broadly, the shutdown will drag down an already-weak economy. Furloughed workers, halted contracts, cut services—the economic consequences are severe. More than 800,000 federal employees are on unpaid leave. The lost wages are estimated to cost the economy $1 billion per week.
- WIC program to stop issuing benefits due to government shutdown (myfox8.com)
- WIC okay in spite of federal shutdown (wiscnews.com)