Government shutdown could affect food assistance programs in Mississippi

Government shutdown could affect food assistance programs in Mississippi

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -The government shutdown could have a negative impact on millions of people who currently receive food stamps, including thousands of recipients living in poverty in the Magnolia State, with full funding for the program possibly in limbo as early as next month.

One Jackson food service program is preparing to step in and help the needy across the state.

The Mississippi Food Network in Jackson provides food to 430 agencies across the state. The non-profit is now bracing for an increase in demand as the government shutdown continues, and the food stamp benefits could possibly be at risk.

“We do spring into action and we do want to be prepared,” said Marilyn Blackledge, director of external affairs for the nonprofit.

Right now, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP), is being affected by the shutdown, leaving many to wonder what’s next for the assistance program and food aid, especially in Mississippi.

The program helps low-income individuals and families buy the food they need for good health.

“Nothing good comes from a panic,” said Blackledge.

Marilyn and her team have been working overtime to make sure no Mississippians go hungry during the shutdown.

“We serve people 12 months a year," she said. “I’ve been through other things like this. We are making our agencies aware that they are going to see an increase in the need of people who need their services. We are trying to look at our budget and make sure we have enough food in the warehouse to accommodate the extra need.”

They’re also counting on donors to help if needed.

“We raise money on a daily basis to purchase food and we have a lot of donated products," said Blackledge. “We are looking at all those things and if there is an increase, we are here to help people, and that is what we are all about, is feeding people.”

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