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Federal Shutdown May Impact Food Assistance Programs

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - If the partial government shutdown continues into February, federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP, and the millions of people who rely on those benefits, may be impacted.

The SNAP program costs nearly $5 billion dollars a month, and there are only$3 billion dollars in reserves according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the program.

Chief Program Officer from Foodlink, Mitch Gruber, says around 120-thousand people in Monroe County rely on the benefits from food stamps.

``And what’s even more alarming is no additional reserve dollars for the month of March. So if this thing continues to go on, and the government does not get back to business, then pretty much anybody who uses SNAP benefits across the country will be impacted somehow, some way,” he said.

Gruber says the state can step in a fill some of the void, so it’s difficult to determine the exact dollar amount of the impact, but some people in the region would see a reduction in their SNAP benefits.

He says the emergency food system at large - the food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that Foodlink helps support will all see a significant increase in demand.

``It appears that this was one of the probably many things that was not really discussed by the federal government or thought of by the federal government before the shutdown happened. And fortunately everything was funded throughout the month of January, but if this thing goes further, it will start to have a serious ripple effect,” he said.