Skip to Content

Food assistance not in immediate danger from looming budget deadline


Congress appears to be on the verge of a deal to put off a government funding deadline.

But even if a shutdown happened, food assistance wouldn't be affected -- at least for a little while.

Congressional leaders hammered out a plan Wednesday to keep several government agencies funded before a Friday deadline. If the House and Senate don't approve a deal in time a partial shutdown would take place.

One agency in the crossfire of this potential government shutdown is the Department of Agriculture, which holds operates major food assistance programs. The department administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP or "food stamps." The USDA also oversees Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which feeds millions of at-risk, low-income women, infants and children.

Christine Woody, a food security policy expert with the non-profit organization Empower Missouri, said neither SNAP benefits or WIC should be interrupted at least through March.

"There have been funding and provisions already in the budget are in the works that benefits will be moving forward to cover all of March," Woody said.

In the meantime, WIC will not lose all its funding, but due to more people signing up for assistance, there will be a larger waitlist if the funding is limited, per ABC News.

SNAP has already received its funds for March and has reserve funding.

Kelly Horton from the Food Research and Action Center said people could lose their benefits if a shutdown went longer.

"In the event that the government shuts down past March, there's some money to continue SNAP, about a $6 billion contingency reserve to help cover the costs," Horton said. "So we would have benefits, I believe it's for the next month or two. But then after that, we don't know and people could potentially lose their benefits."

Kim Buckman of Feeding Missouri says that food banks are hoping for the best and planning for the worst.

"Previous government shutdowns have lasted anywhere from a few hours to 35 days," Buckman said. "Our network of six food banks are familiar with the reality of how vulnerable many of our neighbors are. Many households, including those not on SNAP or WIC, are living paycheck to paycheck and just one unplanned expense away from facing some difficulty in covering basic needs."

According to Woody and Buckman, there are over 600,000 people on SNAP in Missouri and around 90,000 on WIC.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Jazsmin Halliburton


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content