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Westmoreland Food Bank explains impact government shutdown could have on local families
By Pete DeLuca,
A federal government shutdown is looming. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
Westmoreland Food Bank CEO Jennifer Miller is concerned.
“This could not be worse timing,” she said.
According to Miller, the food bank is already busier than ever thanks in part to inflation and rising gas prices.
“We used to see three to five emergencies, that’s people who walk in and say, ‘I need food, or I need to get started in the pantry system,’ we used to see three to five a month. We’re seeing three to five a day,” Miller explained.
Despite that, Miller says the Westmoreland Food Bank is prepared to handle an influx of visitors throughout the pending shutdown, including Westmoreland County’s 200 federal employees.
“That’s 200 people, 200 households that will not have an income because of the shutdown,” Miller said. “They’re going to get it eventually, but what do they do in the meantime?”
According to Miller, WIC benefits for women, infants, and children under 5 could run out in just a matter of days.
That would impact more than 178,000 people statewide, including 2,500 in Westmoreland and 9,800 in Allegheny Counties.
“The fact that children could not get the nourishment that they need because of the shutdown, that’s going to increase the reliance on food banks,” Miller said.
SNAP benefits — relied on by 14% of Pennsylvanians — will continue briefly, but a lengthy shutdown could disrupt those as well.
“Everybody is going to get their SNAP benefits through October, for sure, however, after October, if it continues to last that long, November is not a guarantee,” Miller said.