Mountain foodbanks prepare to fill the gap as government shutdown persists

Funding for essential programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could soon run out as the partial government shutdown continues. Foodbanks and pantries are preparing to help, if that happens. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

As the partial government shutdown continues, health departments across the country are preparing for the worst.

Funding for essential programs could soon run out.

"It’s one of those things you can’t put off," said Kara Irani of MANNA FoodBank in Asheville.

A news release said the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) has funding to last through part of February; the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) has funding through mid-February; and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), through mid-March.

"We know how powerful that program is in terms of making sure the over 100,000 people we serve, just in Western North Carolina, every year have access to food," Irani said, referring to SNAP.

Irani said here in the mountains it's mainly children, seniors and working families who benefit from the SNAP program.

If people can’t get the help they need from the government, it will be up to the community, she said.

"That is our absolute number-one mission, (to) make sure that if someone needs food, they can access it," Irani said.

But she says it’s not going to be an easy task.

"Food banks and our partner pantries are already very stretched just to provide food assistance that is needed even now," Irani said.

So if the shutdown continues long enough, she said it will be all hands on deck.

"It would be a massive call to action," Irani said.

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