Well, this is quite the mess we’ve woken up to this morning, isn’t it? The government is shut down. Family blogger Jenn has already let us know how the government shutdown affects our national parks. I spent some time this morning researching how the shutdown will affect those who rely on the government for money for food.

To find out the following information, I couldn’t use the USDA website. It’s shut down. (See above screenshot.) When I went to usa.gov as suggested, I was sent to a list of links for contingency plans. When I clicked on the link for the contingency plans for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, I was sent back to the USDA site and the “lapse in federal government funding” message.

From the information I could find from what I consider reliable sources, here’s how various food assistance programs will be affected if the shutdown is prolonged.

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps) – SNAP will continue to be funded for at least a year. USA Today says the program is funded through the recovery act, and those funds have another year before they expire.
  • WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) – The WIC program is greatly affected by the shutdown. Huffington Post reports that the impact of the shutdown on WIC will be on a state-by-state basis. The states administer the federal funds that they receive for WIC, but during the shutdown, no federal funds for the program will be available. That means the states will have to work with what money they have. The USDA believes most states have enough federal money to continue operating for about a week. 
  • Senior Nutrition Grants – 2.5 million elderly Americans who rely on this program are in trouble. The federal funds for Senior Nutrition Grants will be unavailable during the shutdown, according to NBC News.
  • National School Lunch Program – USA Today reports the USDA “expects most schools will be able to continue providing meals through October.” Schools with excess funds will continue to be able to operate their school lunch programs. A website I’m unfamiliar with, The Braiser, says that after October “food suppliers will continue to supply schools, eventually getting reimbursed for whatever they send to schools to feed the children.” (If anyone can confirm that information from a more reliable source, please let me know in the comments.)
So there you have it. The best information I could cull together in absence of being able to get it directly from the horse’s mouth.

If you have any additional information from reliable sources, please leave it in the comments.

Related files on MNN

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Government shutdown: How it affects food assistance
What will happen to WIC, SNAP and the federal school lunch program if the shutdown is prolonged?