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Government Shutdown Felt At Local Food Banks

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Courtesy of
/
Freestore Foodbank

As the government shutdown nears the 30-day mark, an agency that coordinates food assistance in the area is seeing effects. The Freestore Foodbank works with 450 pantries across southwestern Ohio, southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky. President and CEO Kurt Reiber says a number of those food banks have reported an increase in demand.

"Some of it from furloughed (government) workers. Some of it from folks who are obviously being impacted by the reality of the shutdown." Reiber says that includes people who receive assistance, including SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

"We obviously will not be able to replace all of the food that is generated or supported because of how much SNAP money that comes into our region," Reiber says. "What we will be able to be is a bridge between when the benefits run out and the government is back up and running again."

He says for every meal a Feeding America Network food bank provides, there are 12 meals provided by SNAP benefits.

The trade war with China is working in food banks' favor. Congress approved a tariff remediation plan to help farmers hurt by decreased sales to China.

"$100 million worth of food is being purchased from U.S. farmers and then is being distributed throughout the United States. What we're getting is additional commodities through the USDA." Reiber says that means more chicken, more produce and more dairy products.

He says the shutdown has benefited the Freestore Foodbank. "Some of the furloughed workers in our community have come down and volunteered at our Harrison distribution center and also at our customer connection center," he says. "More hands make the load a little bit lighter."