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Food Banks Fear ‘Crisis’ as Looming Government Shutdown Threatens WIC Assistance

 The looming federal government shutdown would stop WIC assistance, causing food banks to worry about an influx of people in need in their already stressed situation.

Month after month, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank continues to see more and more people.

“The need for emergency food is so high,” said Kristin Warzocha, CEO and President.

The Cleveland branch, which works with 1,000 partners across six counties, served 96,000 new people over the past year. Well over 350,000 people use their services, she added.

Hunger in the community will be even more devastating if the federal government shuts down this weekend, she said.

“When WIC or SNAP are affected, we’ve got a real crisis on our hands,” she said.

If the government shuts down, so do assistance programs like WIC, which provides nutrition and support to more than 180,000 women, infants and children in Ohio, according to data from the state.

“We expect the demand for food to go even higher,” Warzocha said.

As Ohioans try to get food on their tables, members of Congress fight for a spending bill to keep the government open. The Senate passed a version which House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries will agree to.

“House Democrats are prepared to support that bipartisan agreement,” Jeffries said Wednesday while speaking on the House floor.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy continues to block the path forward because he wants to pass his own bills.

“I don’t surrender to the liberals,” McCarthy said during a press conference Friday. “What I want to do is stand for America.”

Read more about the spending fight by clicking or tapping here.

News 5 reached out to the state to see how it is preparing for the looming shutdown.

“The Ohio Department of Health has a contingency plan involving bridge funding and program reserves, and we are confident in our ability to support a continuation of services for the short term,” spokesperson for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management Pete LuPiba said. “The Office of Budget and Management continues to work with all of our agency partners to monitor what is happening at the federal level and plan for contingencies.”

No other details were provided by LuPiba, despite more in-depth questions being asked, including one asking how long this “contingency plan” would last. The Department of Health declined to answer the same question.

Not only will WIC benefits stop, but some government employees will also lose paychecks.

“Within a week or two of the [2019] shutdown, we had federal employees in our lobby looking for food,” Warzocha said.

Congress has until Oct. 1.

“We’re gonna keep working as hard as we can to make sure that the food that is needed is available,” Warzocha said.

Source : News 5



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