The government shutdown has entered its third week. Besides the 800,000 government workers who have lost their paychecks and are now living on their savings or finding other ways to make ends meet, there is a larger group of people who will be directly, immediately, and critically affected by the shutdown in a few weeks if there is no resolution.
There are 40.3 million people in the United States who use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to help feed their families. These benefits for February will be paid out early, and then there will be no SNAP beginning in March. Already 2,500 grocers have quit accepting SNAP because their SNAP licensing was not renewed before the shutdown began on Dec. 22.
The WIC program, which provides 7.3 million mothers and children under 5 with food, milk, formula, juice and other staples, will probably also run out of funding by March 1. Free and reduced lunch and after-school lunch programs will probably also no longer be available by March. TEFAP, which funds the commodities program that brings food to individuals, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens (like Sunday Soups), and programs like Meals on Wheels, will no longer be available.