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"We don't know what to expect," said Jessica Slider, Director of Communications with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. "We know that SNAP benefits are going through January, and that's what we're communicating to folks so that they don't have to feel unsure or are concerned about their benefits to the end of the month."
In late 2018, Congress passed a measure that funded the SNAP program through January. It is likely some states, including North Carolina, will have funding leftover that will get them through some of February, but not all. North Carolina, as well as other states, will no longer be able to operate the entitlement program should funding completely dry up in February.
"We don't know what's going to happen in February," Slider said, speaking of the possibility of leftover funding next month. "We are working with our partner agencies to make sure we've got resources for folks that need the food but their benefits are in question and we have access to food for them from our partner agencies."
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According to statistics, more than 65 percent of SNAP recipients in North Carolina are in families with children. Furthermore, more than 42 percent of participants are in working families and over 30 percent are in homes where family members are elderly or have a disability.
The shutdown is also affecting grocery stores, especially those that rely heavily on food stamp benefits.
The manager of International Foods in Raleigh says the government shutdown is hurting business. Many of his customers use food stamps. Due to the shutdown, the store has been nearly empty. And if the shutdown continues, he’ll have to cut employee hours. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/SRD32eyCua— DeJuan Hoggard (@DeJuanABC11) January 7, 2019
International Foods in Raleigh serves a large number of customers who use food stamps. Monday afternoon, the store was nearly empty and the manager told ABC11 that while traffic is rarely heavy during that time frame, business during the shutdown has been slow.
"It's a little bit off. Like, we used to be busy and now we are very slow. You can see, there's no people shopping in the store right now," said manager Wilca Gomez.
The most recent numbers from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services show how many locations accept SNAP benefits.
- Wake County: 712 stores
- Durham County: 240 stores
- Cumberland County: 331 stores
- Johnston County: 128 stores