Friday, January 18, 2019

120,000 Florida veterans may go hungry if shutdown continues

120,000 Florida Veterans Might Lose Their Food Stamps If Government Shutdown Continues

Danielle Prieur
January 17, 2019
“I just recently started coming to Soldiers’ Angels. I was homeless at the time and went from there into the HUD-VASH program. And that’s when I became aware of Soldiers’ Angels.”

One of the federal programs affected by the partial government shutdown is the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. If the shutdown continues into March, funding for the program could run out. And in Florida that means a lot of low-income and homeless veterans may have to fend for themselves. More veterans in Florida rely on food stamps than any other state.
Florida has the largest number of veterans on food stamps. The USDA has guaranteed food stamps through February. FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
Every third Friday, volunteers at the VA mobile food pantry in Baldwin Park pack supplies for veterans. An older veteran shows junior ROTC kids how to pack clear gallon bags with carrots and potatoes and brown paper bags full of pasta.

A line of older sedans and minivans has started to form while the volunteers were working. Cristina Mercado who runs the VA pantry says donations from nonprofits Soldiers’ Angels and Second Harvest can only feed 200 veterans so spots have been going fast.

“Within 2 hours, 153 people signed up on our list and within a day and a half the list was completely filled up. And then within a few days after that, our wait list also filled up. So this was the quickest [sign-up] so far.”

Mercado says demand for the food bank has grown since the fall. That’s partly because of an influx of veterans coming from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
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