On Oct. 11, northern New Jersey food pantry CUMAC announced in a note to supporters that it is dangerously low on food supplies. “CUMAC faces a harsh reality,” the e-mail read. “Food is still dangerously low in our pantry. In fact, if help doesn't come soon, CUMAC will literally run out of food by the last week of October."
Last year, the food pantry served over 30,000 families in the Paterson area, but with the economy still struggling, the numbers have swelled to over 3,000 a month, a number that is expected to climb when cutbacks on SNAP benefits take effect in November.
This all comes at a time when donations are at an all-time low, due in a large part to the number of families and organizations who unable to give, or give as much to emergency food providers, during these tough economic times.
“Donations are on the decline, several area pantries have already closed down this year, and the impending decisions of congress could leave even more casualties,” CUMAC reported.
Nationwide, food pantries are bracing for the impact of lost funding and food supplies, due to the continuing government shutdown.
Feeding America recently reported a number of programs including programs serving seniors and children, will not have the funds to continue operating long term. For food pantries like CUMAC, the loss of Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) will leave shelves barer than ever before and more people at risk of going hungry.
While orders already placed through the federal program prior to the shutdown will be filled, no new food will be available. “Unfortunately, food banks will not receive federal funds to offset the cost to store and distribute TEFAP foods,” Feeding America warned member pantries. “In addition, food banks can expect a delay in TEFAP orders expected in January since USDA cannot place the orders until the government reopens.”
The empty shelves at pantries like CUMAC and cuts in SNAP benefits mean many more Americans are likely to go hungry. “Millions are at risk of slipping into poverty and for every one of these households, the cost of hunger leaves unthinkable damage,” CUMAC said.