Community Issues

Food Pantries Feeling Surge from Lingering Impact of Shutdown

The government shutdown is over, but impacted families and local food pantries still need help.

The government shutdown is over, but impacted families and local food pantries still need help. We've been telling you for weeks about how the shutdown was creating a lot of unexpected need among federal workers.

Now food banks are feeling extra pressure from families that receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, commonly called food stamps. These families have gone a month without a payment because they got their payments for February in January in an effort to beat a potential benefit cut-off during the shutdown. By now, many families have exhausted those benefits.

Northside Common Ministries is trying to do their part, stocking up with bread and produce like carrots, apples and oranges, all items normally available with food stamps. People are able to stop by and shop from their pantry. But the lingering effects of the shutdown have caused an increase in demand. Pantry coordinator Jana Thompson told the Post-Gazette that she doesn't have monthly total figures yet, "but we are definitely busy," and that on a day when there would normally be about 30 clients shopping, there are 80.

Organizations like the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank are also stepping up. The Food Bank's GoFundMe page " Feed Our Feds " remains active and has collected nearly $40,000. That's still a far cry from their goal of $100,000, which is what the Food Bank calculated they would need to help serve more than 18,000 federal workers in their 11 county region.

In addition to keeping the GoFundMe page active, the Food Bank has continued to hold extra distribution centers near federal work places, like the airport. Click here to see where they are located. These are in addition to existing neighborhood food pantries, and 17 "Produce for People" centers, something we've highlighted in the past, throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, which serve approximately 8,000 homes with healthier food options all year long.

(Credit featured image to the Northside Common Ministries Facebook page)

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