Food assistance programs at risk during shutdown; local food banks brace for impact

Food assistance programs could be at risk if the partial government shutdown continues. Government officials say food stamp benefits will be provided for February, however, food banks are gearing up in case the shutdown wears on.

"I can't deal with it. It's so painful,” said the wife of a TSA agent who wants to remain anonymous. She says her husband hasn’t been paid in weeks.

Government employees working without pay or out of work are having to make tough financial decisions but food bank loaves and fishes says food doesn't have to be one of them. 

"For the vast majority of people we see in our pantries, these are working families that just experienced some sort of short term crisis,” said Tina Postel, Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes.

She says the organization is bracing for an increase of people needing food assistance due to the partial government shutdown.

"Now if they're going to be shortened a paycheck or if they're worried about not getting some financial assistance through SNAP or WIC or even if they have children that receive free and reduced lunch that could be in jeopardy. This is definitely a worrisome time for some families."

With no end to the shutdown in sight, the family of the Charlotte Douglas International TSA agent are feeling the pressure.

"We don't necessarily have a lot of money for groceries anymore and it's getting harder to get gas money to get my husband to work,” the agent’s wife said. 

North Carolina ranks in the top 10 of most food insecure states. Nearly 35,000 households in the charlotte area already receive snap benefits meaning the need for food could become widespread.  

"When you think about the number of people in our community who are food insecure, 77,000 individuals that's enough to fill up Bank of America stadium. That's how many people we fed and provided groceries to last year,” said Postel.