Government Shutdowns Disproportionately Impact People Experiencing Hunger


Washington, D.C., September 29, 2023 – As we approach the deadline for a government shutdown, Bread for the World urges Congress to keep the government open and pass a budget agreement that fully funds programs that assist people experiencing hunger. The following statement can be attributed to Rev. Eugene Cho, president and CEO of Bread for the World:  

“Government shutdowns are bad for everyone, but especially people experiencing hunger. Nearly seven million women, children, and babies are on the verge of losing vital nutrition support if WIC runs out of funds. Nearly 40 million SNAP recipients could lose their food assistance if the shutdown runs past October.

“Bread urges our leaders in Washington to come together to pass a budget agreement that keeps the government open and fully funds WIC, SNAP, international food aid, and other programs that assist people experiencing hunger. We also urge lawmakers to include $1.4 billion in emergency funding for WIC in any short-term agreement.

“We have a responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us – especially children. Bread urges Congress to take swift action to resolve this situation. As the Bible tells us – do not withhold good from those whom it is due when it is within your power to act. (Proverbs 3:27 NIV).”

Below is a list of ways people facing food insecurity could be affected by a government shutdown:

  • Just days after a government shutdown begins the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will run out of funds. Nearly 7 million women and children who rely on WIC will lose access to this vital nutrition support.
    • WIC serves almost half of all babies born in the United States.
  • If the shutdown continues past October, roughly 40 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients could lose their food assistance.
  • A prolonged shutdown could also result in the pause of free and reduced-price school meal programs across the country, as well as meals served in Head Start and day care centers. This happened during the 2018 government shutdown.
    • Kids on these programs would lose access to what in some cases is their only nutritious meal of the day.
    • Rural districts with smaller budgets could be hit especially hard.  
  • In addition, a protracted shutdown could push lower- and middle-income federal employees and military families, as well as government contractors who may not receive back pay, into food insecurity. 

Bread for the World is a Christian advocacy organization urging U.S. decision makers to do all they can to pursue a world without hunger

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