Monroe County officials and community partners met Tuesday to discuss the partial federal government shutdown’s impact on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients and emergency food preparedness. 

In Monroe County alone, there are more than 60,000 households using SNAP. While February benefits have already been distributed, but what’s next remains unclear as the shutdown drags on.

“Bottom line, the government shutdown is hurting families in our region," said Foodlink President and CEO Julia Tedesco. "Whether it’s federal workers that have been furloughed, or families receiving SNAP benefits, and the future is uncertain right now.”

That’s why Foodlink, 211 and United Way stood alongside the Monroe County officials Tuesday, to say they are there and ready to help.

“Uncertainty is certainly frustrating, but we have no control over that right now," Tedesco said. "So we’re doing what we can to make sure we’re prepared should the government shutdown last longer than expected.”

However, they do say they can’t do it alone, and are asking the community to donate either money or food, or even volunteer at a local food bank.

“For every 12 meals SNAP provides, a food bank is only able to provide one," Tedesco said. "So being able to meet that need and fill that gap is incredibly difficult, and we need the community’s help to do so.”

And the county says to budget carefully, to let those benefits stretch as long as possible.

“Everyone gets nervous and rightfully so under such circumstances," said Corinda Crossdale, Monroe County Department of Human Services Commissioner. "What we were hearing is people were reluctant to spend their benefits because they thought they’d go away. We certainly want people to know that the benefits that have been issued for this month will continue.”

Those interested in helping can visit Foodlink's website, or call 211 to see what programs are near you.

“The shutdown has a ripple effect for the whole community. Families not having enough dollars to spend in the local economy has a ripple effect on all businesses and all people," Tedesco said. "So we’re asking that everyone step up to assist during this time. Make sure every single family, regardless of circumstances, has the resources they need to feed themselves and their families."