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Shutdown a “Complete Disconnect” from the Realities of Hungry Ohioans

PHOTO: Unless a resolution is reached soon on the government shutdown, SNAP benefits will end at the end of the month. Photo: food advocate. Courtesy. OAFB.
PHOTO: Unless a resolution is reached soon on the government shutdown, SNAP benefits will end at the end of the month. Photo: food advocate. Courtesy. OAFB.
October 9, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohioans who struggle with hunger could be left without basic nutrition assistance unless Congress acts soon to get the government back in business.

Without a resolution, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP, will cease to operate in November.

It's a complete disconnect from the realities of 47 million Americans who face food insecurity each day, said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

"We're talking about low-income working families, unemployed adults, senior citizens and, more importantly, children," she said. "It's time that Congress get to work, get the business of the people done now."

The shutdown comes at an already bad time for food assistance, she said, with the expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act SNAP benefit increase and changes expected in the stalled Farm Bill that could reduce SNAP benefits for Ohioans. Ohio was recently ranked 10th in the nation for low food security.

During the shutdown, the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC), is being operated through the state because all federal funds have stopped. Hamler-Fugitt said funding also is at risk for senior and child nutrition programs and Commodity Assistance Programs.

"These programs are not forward funded; they are funded on an ongoing basis," she said. "Without a continuing resolution or a budget, it looks as though no benefits will be issued for November."

Many of the employees who run these programs are furloughed, she said, so whenever the government does reopen, there will be a lag time getting food assistance programs back up and running.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH