TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Another day has passed where the federal government has not secured a budget. The partial government shutdown continues to impact several federal departments' operations. That's not to mention the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who aren't getting paid.
Many across the country were nervous about being able to get and use food stamps. At first, funding for SNAP was only available until January.
However Tuesday night, the U.S. Agriculture Secretary announced funds for SNAP are now secured through February.
But as the task of funding the government gets kicked further down the road, News 10 wanted to talk with Catholic Charities about its role if the shutdown continues.
News 10 spoke with Terre Haute Catholic Charities Agency Director, John Etling.
He shares, "I find it hard to believe that any of us doesn't know somebody, or maybe that our children doesn't go to school with somebody, or we don't sit in a church pew with somebody who's affected by either food insecurity or possibly this latest potential crisis with the government shutdown."
As the partial federal government shutdown marches on, Etling says the organization will continue to do what it does best.
He explains, "Our hope is that this shutdown ends pretty quickly here, but if it doesn't, I think we'll continue doing everything we can to make sure people have access to food."
Since funding for SNAP benefits was secured through the month of February, it granted some breathing room for residents who use them. But, that doesn't necessarily help the hundreds of federal Wabash Valley employees who are still without a paycheck.
Etling shares, "We'll be gauging it based on what our pantries tell us. What those, you know those at the ground level see. Chances are they are going to feel that effect before we do, and they'll do everything they can to get more food through our program if and when those people do show up."
Etling says if you have a heart to give, start by looking for ways to help in your own community.
He explains, "Find out where those pantries and soup kitchens are. They're always in need of either volunteers, or maybe monetary donations, or food, canned food donations. You know they are the life line for the food bank."
Etling says despite the shutdown "TEFAP" food deliveries planned for February will continue. TEFAP stands for The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Essentially it's food that's been purchased in advance by the USDA. Etling says examples include cheese, milk, apples, fresh potatoes, and more. This is so pantries and food kitchens can have additional items for the people they serve.
Etling says these products are distributed to counties based on poverty and unemployment numbers. He says despite the government shutdown, operations with TEFAP are still running smooth for now.
Etling explains, "If this were to last beyond say the next 5 or 6 months there may be some slow down, but for the time being I'd say we're in pretty good shape with the commodities coming through the program."
Officials say that those who use WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is funded through next month. Also, the child nutrition programs, which include school breakfasts and lunches and after-school meals, are set through March.
Etling says in a case like this, information is power. He says there's almost a bigger push for folks to know where to get information about food pantries and mobile deliveries.
To find this information, click here. Also, if you see a need that needs met in your community, Etling says you can call 812-232-1447 to report it.
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