The North Texas Food Bank is preparing for a potential government shutdown despite Congress passing a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open through mid-November.
According to KERA, a government shutdown could postpone salaries for numerous federal workers and disrupt vital nutrition assistance programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The North Texas Food Bank is collaborating with its network of nearly 500 feeding partners to get ready for the potential occurrence of a government shutdown.
“The impact of a government shutdown largely depends on how long it lasts,” Government Relations Officer for the North Texas Food Bank Clarissa Clarke told Local Profile. “As a network, we must hope for the best — no shutdown or a brief shutdown that lasts for just a few days — but prepare for the worst-case scenario — a prolonged shutdown that leads to increased demand for charitable food assistance and disruptions to federal nutrition programs.”
Clarke explained that a government shutdown that lasts longer than a few days would potentially increase demand for food assistance from furloughed government workers and those continuing to work without pay, federal contractors and other impacted individuals.
“A lengthy shutdown would cause disruptions to SNAP and other nutrition programs, due to a lack of funding, a delay in processing benefits, or both,” Clarke said. “If the government is not reopened quickly, food banks will be the first and potentially only option for assistance for thousands of people in the DFW metro area.”
Government funding expired on Oct. 1, 2023, and if Congress failed to approve a funding plan by Sunday at 12:01 a.m., a government shutdown would commence. However, a last-minute agreement passed the House and Senate with bipartisan majorities, sending a bill to keep the government funded through Nov. 17 to the president's desk. But government employees are not yet in the clear — another spending bill must be passed before then to avoid a shutdown.
“At the last second, Republicans have come forward with a resolution that will keep the government open for 45 days and provide much-needed disaster relief," New Democrat Coalition Chair Annie Kuster, D-N.H, said in a statement. "Let’s be clear: this isn’t a perfect deal or a permanent solution, but New Dems are dedicated to avoiding a shutdown and protecting our economy. While we support this measure to end this immediate crisis, we continue our calls for additional funding to support Ukraine in their fight for democracy and will work tirelessly to ensure they have the assistance required to win this war.”
In the previous 35-day government shutdown in 2018, the Tarrant Area Food Bank, responsible for supplying 60 million meals annually to 13 counties in North Texas, organized mobile distributions to support federal employees experiencing temporary salary interruptions.