February 20, 2019 – Oregon Food Bank is RELIEVED the president and Congress avoided a second federal partial government shutdown last week by reaching a budget agreement. However, our relief is tempered by a new problem caused by the shutdown: a SNAP Gap. February SNAP benefits were issued two weeks earlier than usual due to the government shutdown, and according to the Oregon Department of Human Services, nearly half of benefits had already been used by the end of January… which means that the 615,000 Oregonians who rely on SNAP will very likely run out of benefits before the end of the month.

This gap in benefits means many of those people will turn to food pantries. During the recent government shutdown, the Oregon Food Bank Network experienced an increase of first-time clients seeking support, and we expect it will happen again at the end of February as people turn to food pantries to bridge the gap.

More than 260,000 Oregonians already rely on the Oregon Food Bank Network to help them have enough to eat, but for every meal we provide to someone in need, SNAP provides 12. Because federal nutrition programs are the single most effective bulwark against hunger, even slight shifts can significantly impact hunger rates in Oregon communities.

Sadly, these are not the only challenges facing SNAP recipients. The federal administration is attempting to chip away at SNAP eligibility through two recent administrative rule making changes: Public Charge and ABAWD waivers.

The Public Charge rule change would deny legal resident status to documented immigrants using SNAP or those potentially eligible for SNAP benefits in the future. And a rule aimed at able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) will further limit the amount of time that adults without children or disabilities can access SNAP benefits. Oregon Food Bank stands with our Feeding America peers urging the submission of public comments to ensure the administration hears our collective voice.

As we have for more than 30 years, Oregon Food Bank is committed to weathering both the known and unknown repercussions of the political and economic climate. You can stay informed and active in fighting hunger by signing up for our action alerts.