How could a potential government shutdown could impact SNAP benefits

If an extended federal government shutdown were to happen, Arizonans would lose their food stamp benefits and that would increase the strain on food banks.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 4:29 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Lawmakers have until midnight Saturday to reach a budget deal to prevent a government shutdown. A government shutdown means millions of federal workers like military members, Border Patrol, and air traffic controllers won’t get paid. A shutdown would also put SNAP benefits in jeopardy. Commonly known as food stamps, SNAP is a program that provides benefits to low-income families. Nearly one million Arizona families rely on this program, which is federally funded.

The USDA says if a shutdown happens, SNAP benefits will continue through October, but if it extends past that time, people could lose their SNAP benefits at the end of October. This also means food banks could see increased demand and a strain on supply.

Terri Shoemaker is with the Arizona Food Bank Network. It’s a coalition of five regional food banks and almost 1,000 food pantries across the state. She says SNAP is crucial for the nearly one million Arizonans utilizing it. Congress now has three days left to pass a spending bill before a complete government shutdown.

“We know when families get SNAP and things like child tax credit that the poverty rates go down,” Shoemaker said. “If the shutdown extends longer than that, then there will be a lot of families who already deal with uncertainty being even more uncertain.”

Shoemaker says more families could turn to food banks for help during a shutdown. We have previously reported St. Mary’s Food Bank is seeing a massive demand due to inflation. Last year, they helped 150-thousand families in just one month.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health Services sent Arizona families a message regarding their WIC program. The statement says families can continue to rely on those services, even during a shutdown. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, federally funded through the USDA, serving more than 140,000 Arizonans a month. Marlene Hernandez is the WIC Director.

“People are just confused about mixed messages out there, so they’re just asking what’s happening,” Hernandez said. “WIC supports women who are pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum, infant and children up to the age of five.”

Hernandez says families should not worry. “Our calculations are showing we are good until the calendar year,” she said. “Please go use your benefits. Continue to have your appointments.”

Shoemaker says food banks receive their supplies from the USDA, and she says the good news is that if the government did shut down, that food program would not stop.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.