IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/ FOX 28) -- It is day 23 of the partial government shutdown, the longest in United States history.
The USDA announced it will continue funding some food programs, like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children ), through February. Despite this sigh of relief for now, but food pantries may soon be pressed to their limits if the shutdown drags on.
"You can learn to stretch food, but you can only stretch it so far," said food pantry user Margaret Lawrence. "It does concern me that it'll get busier and busier here."
"We know that we've already had at least one family come in saying specifically that they need help because their family doesn't have an income right now because the income earner is furloughed," said Sarah Benson Witry, Food Bank and Emergency Assistance Director at the Johnson County Crisis Center.
Roughly half of the Crisis Center's 13,000 clients benefit from the SNAP program.
"If people aren't able to use those benefits, we are going to need to provide potentially 100 percent of people's needs through pantries, and that's going to require a lot of increased resources for our pantry and other pantries," said Benson Witry.
"What concerns me is theres a lot of food in the warehouse, but it can go remarkably quickly," said Lawrence.
Both SNAP and WIC help families pay for things like formula, milk, and meat, which are expensive for pantries to afford and keep in stock.
"I don't know how we would be able to serve people without a huge, huge increased donations from the community," said Benson Witry. "There's also the TFAP program, which helps provide food pantries with foods that are healthy at a very low cost. That's a federal program that could also be at risk if the shutdown continues."
The Crisis Center said it may need up to 50 percent more donations than they usually get this time of year to plan for more clients if the shutdown continues. Information on how to donate to the pantry can be found here.
A list of other pantries in the corridor can be found through the food pantries website.