SNAP recipients turn to food banks as program funds run out

PEMBROKE PARK, FLA. (WSVN) - As the partial government shutdown drags on, food stamp recipients could be affected in a matter of weeks.

About 38 million Americans depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help buy their groceries. More than one million reside in South Florida.

The last of the program’s funds were already issued.

If the government doesn’t reopen soon, nearly 40 million people will not have enough money to eat.

“February SNAP benefits were dispersed early on January 20th,” Feeding South Florida Executive Vice President Sari Vatske said. “By receiving that month’s benefits two weeks early, we’re now concerned that mid-February families will run out.”

Lacking funds for food, many families will turn to food pantries like Feeding South Florida in Pembroke Park.

Vatske said Feeding South Florida is already hard at work feeding furloughed federal employees who aren’t getting paid.

“We are potentially looking at an $84 million worth of budget deficit that families will otherwise have to purchase food that the food bank is looking to have make up,” she told 7News.

Asked if they can make it up, Vatske responded, “not at the moment.”

Over in Hollywood, Eduardo Pineda helps run Hispanic Unity.

They hosted a clinic Thursday that taught people who were applying for SNAP how to plan healthy meals.

“SNAP is critical. It’s the most important hunger-reduction program in the United States,” Pineda said.

The applicants were nervous because they were applying for a program that’s out of money and won’t see funds until the government reopens.

“They would not have access to the funds to purchase food,” Pineda said, “so they would rely on the food pantry network.”

Migalda Bordonada already uses SNAP to feed her family, including her blind husband.

“I’m very worried about it,” she said. “We don’t have no food in our house. It’s very important to fix the situation — not only for us, for everybody else.”

If the government remains partially closed in the coming weeks, food pantries like Feeding South Florida will have to rely on donations.

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