Shutdown impacts Americans who receive help from federal food stamps

SAN DIEGO (KUSI)- The effects of the government shutdown are continuing to grow. This week, millions of Americans who get help through food stamps collected early benefits for the month of February, but they won’t receive any additional payments next month.

For people like Cynthia Elkins who lives in El Cajon, the news of the early payment came as a shock, delivered in a recorded call from the County of San Diego, which manages the program known in California as CalFresh.

“There’s a lot of people out there very stressed out and wishing that the American people could get what they’re owed,” Elkins said.

With no payments scheduled for next month, Elkins and other CalFresh recipients have been told to budget carefully. The funds that typically buy a month’s worth of food may have to last for six weeks or longer.

“There was a call saying here’s your February food stamps. You’ll have it until March. You get nothing in February.”

At this point, there is no guarantee of any future benefits if the U.S. Department of Agriculture fails to receive additional funds. About 260,000 people in San Diego County are registered for the CalFresh program. On average, the income of CalFresh recipients is $1,000 a month.

Anahid Brakke, the head of the San Diego Hunger Coalition said she did not know what might happen to CalFresh payments in March. Brakke said there will be more people turning to churches and the region’s two major food banks for help.

“CalFresh is likely to be their only money for their food budget. l think that we’re going to see some people really struggling and we’re going to see organizations struggling to meet their needs,” Brakke said.

For Elkins and others who depend on this supplement, politics has turned personal. “I hope and pray that things will get better, because it’s affecting a lot of people who will be in trouble, if they don’t.”

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