Food bank worries government shutdown could shut off funding

Shutdown could mean thousands go without food they rely on

SALEM, Va. – As the government shutdown continues, now in its third week, hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians could have a harder time affording food.

Discussions continued Tuesday about how to keep government assistance programs like SNAP funded.

Leaders of a local nonprofit are keeping a close eye on those developments, as well as on the federal funding sources that affect their resources.

Feeding America Southwest Virginia President Pamela Irvina is worried that the shutdown could affect the group.

“If we go past, into February, March, April, our food bank will be in a food crisis,” Irvine said.

The nonprofit’s main programs rely on government assistance. It’s already having trouble at times getting food to meet needs.

“We see a lot of empty shelves,” she said, showing 10 News the group’s current inventory. “We’ll be walking through just about an empty warehouse in a couple months if somebody doesn’t do something to solve this issue.”

Irvine said the state agencies that work with the nonprofit are alluding to the chance for problems if the shutdown continues. She keeps asking if the group can count on its funding.

“We keep hearing phrases like, ‘for now,’” she said

In the event that other government assistance programs lose funding, it could place pressure on food banks.

“If SNAP is cut, these people are going to start showing up at the doors of our mobile food pantries in southwest Virginia, our partner programs, and we’re not going to be able to meet the need,” she said.

The nonprofit serves 117,000 people a month over 26 counties.