Red Cross Food Pantries Facing Problems With Gov. Shutdown - NECN

Red Cross Food Pantries Facing Problems With Gov. Shutdown



    Grant money provided for food cut with shutdown despite increasing demand at pantries (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Justin Michaels) - The Red Cross Food Pantry in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston hands out emergency food provisions to the needy. This food pantry gets its food from grant money from the federal government and also from private donors. The federal money will likely stop with the government shutdown, placing a strain on this food bank to give the 44 pounds of emergency food they receive each month.

    Jarrett Barrios CEO, Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts said, "In general, when we see these difficult economic circumstances we see a spike up in our food pantry usage because people aren't sure."

    He says a new development Wednesday deals with the WIC program. It helps low income mothers provide the vital nutrients their young children need to survive. Funding for that program has been cut, leaving the Red Cross to pick up the pieces.

    Barrios said, "The money specifically goes to buy milk and formula because we have shelf tabled milk here expect that folks they can't get it anywhere else cause they have been relying on WIC going to have to come to the pantry."

    The Red Cross is lucky to have private donors. Many other food banks depend solely on federal dollars to provide the food that people need. Because the federal dollars are stopping, other food pantry's may eventually run out of food, and in turn the needy will start to come here in greater numbers, during a time the Red Cross is already strained.

    Barrios said, "The food that we get comes from a number of different sources, but mostly from the emergency food assistance program. It's our hope that that food will continue to come in."

    But that's just one problem at one food pantry in one city.

    In Portsmouth, N.H., 332 furlough notices have gone out to employees in the New Hampshire Air National Guard statewide.

    Barrios says often times, when federal employees are laid off in the past, many do resort to food pantry like this.

    H said, "Demand is going to go up. We are not going to turn anybody away. But it might mean, what we normally give people, we might have to give a little bit less."
    And before this government shutdown, this site has seen a 10-percent increase in clients needing food this year compared to last.