If There is a Government Shutdown....
First, try not to worry. We’ve got you covered.
If Congress does not pass legislation to fund the federal government—either full-year appropriations legislation or another continuing resolution—by November 17, the government will shut down on Saturday, November 18.
Coming on the heels of a new report showing the highest food insecurity rates in nearly a decade, a government shutdown will create hardship for more than 40,000 of families, friends, and neighbors in Larimer County as they prepare to come together this holiday season.
The impact of a shutdown will be felt well beyond the nation’s capital—in Colorado there are just over 38,000 federal employees, almost 38,000 and many people who work for federal contractors. Paycheck disruptions caused by a shutdown will make it harder for many people to access the food they need in November and December. The negative economic impact will ripple throughout communities, affecting people and businesses who rely on the federal government or its employees and contractors as customers.
If a shutdown extends until January, it will disrupt critical anti-hunger programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). If these programs are not funded, more than a half million people in Colorado will face additional challenges putting food on the table after the start of the new year.
Currently, almost 88,000 Coloradans receive WIC.
Not only would a shutdown during the holidays hit families in our community hard, but it would also worsen the food supply crisis we are facing.
The Food Bank for Larimer County experiences the greatest need during the holiday season, and we are already struggling to meet [sustained OR heightened] need in our community. A government shutdown during the holidays would compound the challenges of ongoing supply chain disruptions and high food and transportation costs during a time of already increased need.
We will do all we can to support our community, but our food and funds can only go so far. The Food Bank for Larimer County is urging Congress to avoid a shutdown so everyone has access to the food they need this holiday season and beyond. We encourage anyone who thinks they might be impacted by a government shutdown to find support from us.
Who will be most impacted?
The impacts of a government shutdown, as best we can predict them, largely depend on how long a shutdown lasts. As a network we must hope for the best—no shutdown or a brief shutdown that lasts for just a few days—but prepare for the worst-case scenario—a prolonged shutdown that leads to increased food insecurity among individuals and families. Feeding America is here to help you with these preparations.
A prolonged government shutdown that lasts longer than a few days would potentially impact food banks in two ways:
- Increased demand for food assistance from furloughed government workers and those continuing to work without pay, federal contractors, and other impacted individuals.
- A very lengthy shutdown would cause disruptions to SNAP and other nutrition programs, due to a lack of funding, a delay in processing benefits, or both.
Will I still have SNAP, WIC, and other benefits?
SNAP: Right now, we are proceeding as normal.
The USDA has confirmed that October SNAP benefits will be available in full and on their normal monthly issuance schedule. If the shutdown lasts until November, SNAP benefits could be incomplete and disrupted. We are in touch with the USDA and will continue to provide the latest updates on SNAP to the network.
Connect with our SNAP outreach staff here with questions.
WIC: WIC’s funding is determined by Congress and is directed to each state by the Federal Government. If there is a government shutdown based on decisions by Congress this week, the WIC program could be impacted. The Food Bank is currently brainstorming options for being able to meet the needs of those who receive WIC benefits should funding be cut or changed.
- Contact your state WIC agency for information about the status of services.
Child nutrition programs: Child nutrition programs are expected to operate as normal. This includes school breakfast and lunch, and afterschool meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). A prolonged shutdown could lead to delays in administrative reimbursements and general program support due to the impact of federal workers being furloughed.
I’m not a current client, but now I need support. Can I visit?
How long will a shutdown last?
Previous government shutdowns have lasted anywhere from a few hours to 35 days, and we promise we’ll be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
We will stay abreast of the news and make updates to this page as we get them and have plans to communicate with you.
What happens on November 18?
The federal government is currently funded through midnight on Nov. 17. As we get closer to this date, the USDA will release additional guidance on how it will manage federal nutrition programs if the government shuts down.
Here is the best information we have about the funding status of federal nutrition programs at the time of a shutdown:
- SNAP: SNAP benefits will be delivered in full and on their normal monthly issuance schedule in November.
- WIC: WIC benefits and services will be available in full and on time through November.
- USDA Commodity Food Purchases and Administrative Funds:
- TEFAP: Purchased and confirmed food orders for TEFAP should be delivered to food banks as expected. However, during a shutdown, food banks may see disruptions in TEFAP storage and distribution funding, depending on the timeline and process their state has established. Check with your state agency to see if a delay in fiscal year 2024 funding will disrupt its normal administrative funding distribution process.
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): Purchased and confirmed food orders for CSFP should be delivered to food banks as expected. USDA distributes administrative funding for CSFP at the beginning of the calendar year, so disruption is not expected.
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR): Fiscal year 2023 FDPIR administrative grant funds are available for two years. So, if Indian Tribal Organizations have not yet spent these funds, they may be used to continue normal FDPIR program operations through Sept. 30, 2024. Food purchases for FDPIR could be disrupted. During previous shutdowns, deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables were delayed because the employees of federal contractors who usually performed the deliveries were not getting paid, which had a cascading impact that interrupted food deliveries and distributions to individuals and families.
- Child Nutrition Programs: School, summer and after-school meal programs are able to continue providing meals to children and are generally not disrupted. These programs have more flexibility during a shutdown as they operate on a reimbursement model after meals have already been provided (for example, schools are reimbursed 30 days after the end of the service month). A prolonged shutdown could lead to delays in reimbursement and general support for child nutrition programs due to the impact of federal employees being furloughed.
- Medicaid/Medicare: Payments for Medicare would continue, though at a slower rate than if the government was fully functioning. The effects of the government shutdown are most likely to be experienced in the form of delays in reimbursement and other payments as a result of staff shortages. In a prolonged shutdown, fewer recertification and initial surveys for Medicare and Medicaid providers would be completed, putting beneficiaries at risk of quality-of-care deficiencies.
- Social Security: The Social Security trust fund is paid for through a combination of taxes and long-term investments, therefore a short-term shutdown would not have an effect. Social Security checks should continue to be mailed on time.
What happens after that?
After November 18
Employees of federal contractors may miss paychecks beginning in November. The timing of missed paychecks will vary from contractor to contractor.
November 23 (Day 6)
November 29 (Day 12)
Federal employees will receive their paycheck as scheduled for work completed prior to the shutdown during the Nov. 5 through Nov. 18 pay period. Since that pay period will end on the first day of the shutdown, this could mean one day of missed pay for some individuals (people who were scheduled to work on Saturday, Nov. 18). The Office of Personnel Management clarified in guidance from 2021 that federal employees will still be paid on time for hours they worked prior to the start of a shutdown.
December 1 (Day 14)
SNAP: SNAP benefits will be available in full and on their normal monthly issuance schedule in December.
WIC: WIC benefits and services will be available in full and on time through December.
December 8 (Day 21)
Congress must pass and the president must sign a spending agreement by this date to prevent disruption to the next round of federal paychecks.
December 13 (Day 26)
Federal employees will miss their first full paycheck, right in the middle of the holiday season.
January 1 (Day 45)
SNAP: SNAP benefits are likely to be incomplete and disrupted in January.
WIC: WIC benefits and services are likely to be incomplete and disrupted in January.