SALT LAKE CITY — Food and nutrition clinics are in danger of closing again if Congress doesn’t reach a compromise. Some families also face the possibility of losing food stamps at the end of the month.
The Women, Infants and Children program could be shut down in the next 16 days.
“We obviously have a number of Utahns that are suffering the impact from the shutdown,” said Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck who is a Democrat representing Downtown Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers on Tuesday discussed what they would consider funding. A special session will take place Wednesday. Funding of WIC or food stamps is not on the agenda, partly because both programs are funded for now.
Local food pantries say they’ve seen an increase in the number of families coming in for help. A letter from the USDA informed states like Utah to suspend the federal food stamp program at the end of the month.
Some people are panicking but Nic Dunn, with the Department of Workforce Services, said families who depend on SNAP won’t be cut off until November and by then the hope is the government is up and running again.
“We knew this was a possibility and we’ve been trying to prepare for it as best we could. Luckily there’s no immediate impact on food stamps, the program is paid out through October and so customers who rely on that for the next couple of weeks they will be OK,” Dunn said.
As far as WIC, mothers who need the program for baby formula and food are safe from the shutdown.
“I think if we’re faced with that November deadline we are going to have to come up with some decision and we look to the Governor’s staff to provide those options for us,” Chavez-Houck said.
State agencies are asking people to lend a helping hand while the country waits for Congress to reach a compromise.
“We’ve actually been telling people, now is a good time to maybe make a donation to your local food pantry, we already know they’ve had some strain to begin with,” Dunn said. “It’s also the kind of year where people do that. So at this point we’re asking for more generosity to help where we can.”