Duluth shelter prepares for potential federal funding halt

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 8:08 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Conversations on Capitol Hill continue as the government faces a potential shut down.

Federally-funded food assistance programs, providing meals to thousands of Northland families, will be directly impacted if a deal isn’t reached by Sunday.

The looming shutdown comes at a time when food shelves in the Twin Ports are seeing more need for their products, including Chum.

“Even today, we were so busy here we had to shut the door because we close at noon, and there was people in line still and to turn people down like that, it gets a little upsetting,” Chum Food Distribution Coordinator April LeDoux said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would stop after the shutdown. WIC offers healthy food to low-income mothers, along with children up to 5 years old.

In Minnesota, an average of 99,700 low-income women, infants and children used WIC in 2022 alone. In Wisconsin, 131,203 mothers and children used the resource that same year.

“I do get a lot of calls for baby formula and stuff that kids can eat, to people who are disabled and their SNAP has gone down tremendously, so they can’t get any food,” LeDoux said.

If the potential shut down lasts long enough, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could be impacted too. According to the USDA, after a shutdown, the program would continue through October.

“I don’t think they understand that if we had a long term shutdown, we would also compromise the SNAP program, which would impact 41 million Americans,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said.

“If it does turn out that we have a shutdown, we’re going to get really busy here, busier than we already are,” LeDoux said.

According to the St. Louis County WIC Program, Minnesota WIC services would continue after a shutdown because the state program has enough funds.

For more information about WIC programs in Minnesota, click here. For more information about WIC programs in Wisconsin, click here.

To donate to Chum, click here.

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