Strain of government shutdown empties food pantry shelves

Jacksonville food bank needs donations to meet ongoing demand


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Northeast Florida food bank is dealing with higher demand and dwindling supplies due to the partial U.S. government shutdown. 

Feeding Northeast Florida, a nonprofit community food bank, has seen a 20 percent increase in people's need for food assistance.

“We expect the government shutdown to have lingering effects for federal government workers, federal government contract workers and SNAP recipients through the end of the quarter in March 2019,” said Feeding Northeast Florida President and CEO Frank Castillo.

On Jan. 25, Congress and the President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government through Feb.15. During this time, the parties will negotiate a long-term spending deal.

“While federal workers are expected to be paid, there are more than 1 million federal contract employees who are unlikely to receive back pay. This is a significant financial impact, as almost 10 percent of their yearly pay was lost during the shutdown,” said Castillo. “We are also deeply concerned about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. While we expect full funding for March benefits, the issuance of February SNAP benefits before Jan. 20 has created a ‘SNAP gap’ that is likely to cause significant financial strain for SNAP participants.”

According to the Unites States Department of Agriculture website, SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. 

Feeding Northeast Florida anticipates federal workers, contractors and SNAP recipients will continue to need assistance from the pantry as they recover from the financial impact of the shutdown.

To help Feeding Northeast Florida provide much-needed healthy, nutritional food to people in need, click here. Monetary donations are especially helpful in order to cover additional costs related to the increased need for nutritious food and the additional costs to distribute it throughout the First Coast.