Government shutdown threatens food on the table for millions

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- As the clock continues to track the ongoing partial government shutdown, it’s ticking toward a problem that has millions of people nervous.

The shutdown is poised to leave them without their full food stamp payment.

You can find the stories behind those nerves at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.

We spoke with several people who rely on both food stamps and local pantries to feed their families each month.

Teresa Morgan represents one of the 19 million households in the United States that receive food stamps through the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

It's set to run out of funding if the government shutdown continues.

Teresa said, “Now I'm really going to need the pantries if they stop the food stamps. You're going to see an explosion because some people won't come because they get the stamps but you're going to see an explosion of dire needs."

That could hurt people ranging from refugees to single moms.

Doug Horner was helping a refugee family from Afghanistan Tuesday. We asked him how important the food pantry's services are to the family.

“Critical,” Horner said. “He has a minimum-wage job with four kids at home so these programs like this at St. Vincent de Paul, the SNAP program, energy credits all of those are extremely important to a family like this."

Food pantry manager, Jerry Brocky, said they'll have to rely more heavily on local donations if the shutdown continues.

“We receive quite a bit of donations already from parishes and individuals so that might be a greater need in the near future if this government shutdown continues."

Over at Together Inc's food pantry, single mom Debra Smith was concerned. She uses the food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul as well.

“You go there and here in the same month in the same day and if they're both impacted and at the same time it's going to be hard for people - especially the people who are really going to need it."

Back at St. Vincent's, Teresa Morgan told us, “This is just absolutely heinous. I never thought in my whole 53 years, aha, 54, that I would ever, ever see this happen."

SNAP is fully funded through January but it was expected that in February the average household will lose more than a third of what they normally receive and SNAP would completely run out of money by March.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue tweeted Tuesday night that President Trump directed the USDA to fully fund SNAP benefits for February despite the shutdown.