Local food pantries could feel impact of shutdown

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- The government shutdown is heading into its third day, and while essential services that protect life or property stay operating, it could still have an impact on providing dinner at a family's table.

It's not just the hundreds of thousands of government workers being forced to stay home without pay who are feeling the pain. The shutdown could eventually cut into supplies at our local food pantries.

But nothing has happened just yet, which is why there is uncertainty on what it means for specifically just the "federal" food supply.

At the Salvation Army Food Pantry of the Chippewa Valley in Chippewa Falls, shelves are a little more bare than usual. The pantry fed 523 households last month or 1,370 individuals from ages 9 through 65+.

Food pantry coordinator Renee Wurzer said it’s because August and September’s donations were lower. Add a government shutdown on top of the situation. Like many other pantries, Salvation Army relies on federal help from the Department of Agriculture for a portion of its supply.

“We get cases of anywhere from 60 to 200 cases of food depending on what is available,” said Wurzer. “Every month, except July, our pantry gets a delivery of commodities.”

However Wurzer said the Salvation Army relies on donations too and as usual, will need the community’s help to keep food supply available.

“At this point we're not sure how it’s going to affect us. We rely on what we do receive and we use it alongside community donations to feed the families hungry in Chippewa County,” said Wurzer.

According to the USDA’s contingency plan, it states: No additional federal funds would be available to support the Commodity Assistance Programs (CAP) including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) administrative funding

Commodities are food the government buys from farmers and gives to local food pantries.

The Hunger Task Force is another place that supplies local food banks in the Milwaukee area.

"We'll stop receiving government commodities starting October 15th,” said Sherrie Tussler with the Hunger Task. Force. "It's important to have a plan because last time the federal government shut down it lasted like three weeks and if it does last that long, we're going to see interruptions."

But when there is uncertainty at the Salvation Army Food Pantry, Wurzer said “God provides.”

Neighboring business Holiday Stationstore dropped by the Salvation Army with a load of frozen pizzas.

“It’s our pleasure to bring over any extra food we do have being a neighboring business we just like to help people in a time of need,” said Jenna Hanson with Holiday Stationstore on N. Bridge Street.

And much of the food delivered to the Salvation Army is brought by the Feed My People Food Bank. On Wednesday, a truckload of four pallets of food was delivered to share with the community.

Wurzer said the Salvation Army is able to buy food from Feed My People at a low rate.

“Through Feed My People which is our primary source, there are ton of corporate partners, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Gordy’s , Kwik Trip, the gas station next door, the library, there's just people that throughout the year that give,” she said.

Wurzer said the Salvation Army has been around helping people in the community for more than a hundred years and will be around to continue the work.

“I ask the community to always, if they're feeling it in their heart, to give, and we'll make sure it goes to the right people,” said Wurzer.

If you want to help, you can either volunteer your time at the pantry as Salvation Army is in need of extra hands for unloading food and other supplies. You can also donate food to the pantry or a monetary donation to the Feed My People Food Bank can go a long way too.

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