Federal government shutdown could close off food supplies for low-income families

Jessica De Nova Image
Friday, September 29, 2023
Federal shutdown would close off food supplies for low-income famllies
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Millions of families rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and it could shut down if federal lawmakers can't reach a budget deal soon.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- We could be just a couple days away from a partial government shutdown.

If it happens, millions of people will be affected.

Among them are mothers and children who depend on government assistance for food.

Hanna Dudina, her husband and child fled war-torn Ukraine and arrived in Orange County recently.

Looking to get on their feet and put food on the table in their new home country, they have been relying on the federal government's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

It helps provide essentials like basic fruits, vegetables and dairy products. One Santa Ana store alone feeds some 400 families through the program every week.

But if federal lawmakers can't reach a budget agreement and the government shuts down week, WIC will be among many programs to be immediately shut down.

The nutrition assistance serves nearly 7 million mothers and children across the nation - almost half of the babies born in the country.

Jamil Hussein says he sees panic among the parents who rely on his store for WIC benefits.

"A lot of customer they are worried about it because they are low-income people and when they come here they keep asking the same question: What's gonna happen after Oct. 1st?"

The shut down will drive many of those benefit recipients to other nonprofits, putting a high-demand on their limited resources.

The Delhi Center in Santa Ana, for example, provides services for low-income families, like food and diapers. The center relies on donations and grants.

"We might have to float money longer and therefore dip into our reserves and lines of credit and I imagine a lot of nonprofits that have either federal, state or local contracts that are federally funded would end up in that predicament," said the center's Juanita Preciado-Hernandez.

It's a problem that Dudina never expected when she arrived in the United States hoping for a better life for her family.

"It's very bad news for us because we need to help for first step to live in USA," she said.