Food Banks Stretch to Help Furloughed Workers as Shutdown Threatens More Texans  

Austin – Feeding Texas, the statewide network of food banks, announced new food distributions to help furloughed government employees this week. Food banks plan to assist Border Patrol officers in Presidio, national park staff in Big Bend, Coast Guard members in Beaumont and NASA employees in Houston among others. Those seeking food assistance are encouraged to contact their closest food bank.

Food banks are preparing to meet a surge in need if the shutdown continues, as well as monitoring potential disruptions to federal food aid in Texas. On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) published a letter detailing an imminent lapse in federal funding for programs benefiting children and seniors.

“This man-made disaster is wreaking havoc on our communities. Congress needs to re-open the government before it gets worse,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “Any other policy debates should come after we keep our children, seniors and families fed.”

Earlier this week, food banks were relieved to learn that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) plans to issue February SNAP benefits early. SNAP is the largest of the federal nutrition programs, serving 3.6 million Texans. However, many who count on the program could be forced to spread their February benefits over 40-50 days, depending on when the next issuance is scheduled. The government would also need to re-open by mid-February to avoid a large cut in March SNAP benefits.

“We’re so grateful that HHSC and TDA have stepped up their efforts to make sure no Texan goes hungry in this uncertain time,” said Cole. “We’re standing together with our state partners to prevent hardship, but we need this shutdown to end.”

Texans with questions about their SNAP benefits can call 2-1-1 or contact their food bank.