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Federal Official Speaks Of Food Benefits Disruption In NY

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that a federal shutdown could trigger massive disruption to families relying on food benefits.

November 10, 2023

 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that a key food assistance program is at risk of lapsing if the federal government shutdown occurs this month which in turn will endanger the health and well-being of 418,000 New Yorkers. 

Vilsack also spoke about the benefits of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children known as WIC which gives access to high-quality and nutritious food to participating mothers with children aged 5 years along with immunization screenings and other social services. 

The program reduces the health care cost for participants as many also get referrals to other medical services. The funding of the program will be disrupted if the federal government shutdown is not averted. A shutdown can come around November 17 unless Congress reaches an agreement. 

Secretary Vilsack highlighted the uninterrupted operation of the WIC program for the past 25 years. He emphasized that federal politicians face two key decisions: whether to approve funding for the entire government, including crucial programs like food assistance, and whether to support increased spending on social services to address the growing issue of food insecurity.

New York will not be able to maintain the program during the shutdown which means that families will have to rely on local food banks to stock their pantries. 

The report released by USDA revealed that around 12 Million mothers and children were eligible for the food assistance program but only half of them are receiving benefits. 

In New York, approximately 800,000 households are still experiencing food insecurity, particularly due to recent increases in food costs. A report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli highlighted the role of federal programs such as WIC and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in addressing the needs of the state’s most vulnerable residents by helping to reduce food insecurity.

The state comptroller along with the poverty advocates urged the congress action on expanding temporary food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC and increasing the eligibility to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 

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Justin Raga. “Federal official warns of food benefits disruption in NY”. Times Union, November 3, 2023, 

Federal official warns of food benefits disruption in NY (timesunion.com)

Last Updated: September 20, 2021