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Government Shutdown Could Affect TN Food Stamp Program

Governor Haslam's office has says the federal government shutdown could have dire consequences for Tennessee's food stamp program.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com)-- As the government shutdown continues, there is fear people across the country will go hungry depending on how long it lasts.

Governor Haslam's office has said the shutdown could have dire consequences on the state's food stamp program. 270,000 people in Shelby County receive help. Next month, their benefits aren't a guarantee.

There is no stoppage to food stamps right now, but if the shutdown lasts a few more weeks, that is going to change. 

"I'm worried a lot of people are going to go hungry," said Osborne Gardner.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp program, can survive for just a limited time without federal funding. If the shutdown continues, food stamps won't.

"I hope it don't last long. Nobody knows. Nobody knows," Gardner said.

The governor's office says federal funds expire within 10 weeks.

Tennessee's Department of Human Services sent Local 24 News a statement that said there will be no immediate impact on SNAP. They say, "October benefits will be issued in accordance with the regular distribution schedule. Depending on the duration of the shutdown, the benefits may or may not be affected after October. We will continue to monitor this situation closely."

So will Memphians.

Elisha Milton works as an elder care worker. Her clients will suffer. "He relies on his food stamps to eat. It's not just younger people, older people are affected by this too."

She's also worried about herself and her two kids.

She gets child care through DHS and is wondering if the shutdown will impact that too.

"I work two jobs," Milton said. "I'll end up losing my job without childcare."

"I'm a single parent," said Jackie Harris. "I need all my benefits."

The shutdown and potential cuts to SNAP could also impact the Mid-South Food Bank. Any loss of benefits would place a larger strain on food banks across the nation.

Those on SNAP benefits usually have enough food for two to three weeks out of the month. Agencies like the food bank help supplement that.
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