Faced with a 15% cut in funding already in place, and a pending further cut of $4 billion annually, local food pantries and Foodlink, a Rochester based Food Hub that supplies 4 million pounds of food to hungry people in 10 counties were already deeply concerned about being able to provide the basic food needs of people.
The shutdown of the government has multiplied that concern. The shutdown has already cut off the flow of food to Rochester Foodlink, which supplies local food pantries. The government funding is about a quarter of Foodlink’s total budget. If the government shutdown continues, several federally funded nutritional programs will be out of money by the end of the month.
Foodlink has told the food pantries it supplies they may need to ration supplies until the government reopens. “In the face of an increase in demand, coupled with a shrinking food supply, there is absolutely no way we’d be able to meet the need,” said Jeanette Batiste, Foodlink’s chief operating officer.
At the same time two other factors are ominous for the local food supply. First, the numbers of people coming to local pantries is at an all time high, up more than 25% in just the last quarter. Second, current cuts in SNAP will mean $11/month cut in food subsidies.
The cuts effect the most vulnerable people, with single parents, the elderly, the disabled and children receive the bulk of the food from local pantries. Many of the folks receiving food are working part-time jobs with no benefits, many of which pay near minimum wage.