Prolonged shutdown will hurt New Yorkers on food stamps

Funding SNAP benefits for more than a million New Yorkers who rely on the food-assistance program costs $5 billion per month. But if the federal government shutdown continues into February, the program won't have enough money to cover everyone who needs the benefits.

"We are very nervous—this is very concerning with all of the need that we know lives in our city," said Camesha Grant, who oversees emergency feeding programs at Food Bank for New York City for 1.5 million New Yorkers who depend on them.

Now there is enough funding for SNAP benefits for the rest of December and January. But that will change if the shutdown continues into February, she said.

"By February, there will be about $3 billion in reserve but monthly snap payments are $5 billion," Grant said. "So you can imagine there's going to be some difficulty there to meet that."

The shutdown has impacted New Yorkers who are currently applying to SNAP because the government employees needed to complete the process are furloughed, causing a two-fold problem for grant and her team.

"What we've learned in a recent report in November is that 80 percent of the soup kitchens and pantries in our city have reported seeing longer lines," Grant said. "So you can only imagine with now this shutdown there's a likelihood that that might even grow."

Those who have snap benefits can still use them during the shutdown because those benefits are still valid.