Food bank readies for new clients as shutdown could leave food stamp recipients hungry

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SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. – The government shutdown is impacting people already living on the edge including many families who rely on food stamps that now worry their future is uncertain.

SNAP recipients were told their assistance should last through February but how much longer after that is still unknown.

In response, some local food banks are now stockpiling food to help fill in the gaps.

“I’ve got to make sure my family’s fed,” said Diana Rangel from Burlington.

Rangel volunteers at Helping Hands Food Bank by packing food for families who might otherwise go hungry.

She’s one of several volunteers working in Sedro-Woolley to help get food to needy families.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed about it’s just something we need to do,” she said.

“We’ve always prepared for a natural disaster,” said Executive Director Rebecca Larsen. “Now this is more of a political disaster rather than a natural one, but it still puts people in a food emergency.”

The prolonged government shutdown means the food bank is not only stocking food to the rafters, but it’s also seeing an increase in demand.

“I’m concerned that the people already living on the verge are going to have to make tougher choices,” said Larsen.

Larsen worries if food stamp benefits aren’t distributed past February, stigma may keep needy families from seeking help.

“I hope that when their food stamps stop, they come here,” she said.

“By the end of the month I’m always struggling,” said Rangel.

Plus, not only is Rangel a volunteer she helps feed her kids and grandchild using food stamps. And since the government shut down means assistance is up in the air, she worries about her family.

“That’s going to be a real struggle,” she said. “I’ve got to think about them, I’ve got to think about my family.”

But that’s why this food bank helps feed people all over the North Sound, from Whatcom to Skagit and Snohomish counties. If you’re hungry and can’t afford food for your family, Helping Hands Food Bank is there to fill in the gap.

“Women and children are silent suffers, they don’t tell you what they’re doing because they’re embarrassed,” said Larsen. “We want to take that embarrassment away so we can fill their carts with food and their kids don’t know a difference."


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