SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Would a government shutdown impact assistance programs like SNAP and WIC?

It’s a question many people in our area are wondering, especially those who rely on the programs to feed themselves and their families.

Nearly two million Pennsylvanians benefit from SNAP, the supplemental nutrition assistance program. A possible government shutdown could result in a loss of payments at the end of October and put a big burden on local food banks.

Empty boxes and bare shelves can be seen at Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton. It’s one of the Bread Baskets of NEPA’s seven food pantry locations in Lackawanna County. This food pantry is an essential community resource, feeding nearly 100 families in need per week. This year, the non-profit has seen an increased need for food assistance in Lackawanna County.

“We are just constantly scrambling to keep our shelves stocked and find enough volunteers to help us serve all these people, and we’re seeing so many new faces,” stated Phoebe Wilson, Executive Director of Bread Basket of NEPA.

Wilson says many families who are enrolled in the SNAP and WIC programs come to the pantry for extra help because it just isn’t enough. A possible government shutdown could jeopardize those essential benefits and place an increased strain on food banks and the services they offer.

“Right now I have no way to increase our capacity and doordash unless we get some more funding. So that worries me a lot, people will be in need out there that we cannot reach,” explained John Kelly, Vice President and Pantry Leader at Bread Basket of NEPA.

The Biden administration says nearly 7 million women and children nationwide who rely on SNAP and WIC could be at risk of losing assistance.

“There are about 180,000 women and children in Pennsylvania who depend on that, and those are facing probable cuts immediately if there’s a shutdown,” stated Representative Matt Cartwright, 8th District

With the impending shutdown, Bread Basket of NEPA says donations and volunteers are needed now more than ever. To learn more on how you can donate visit their website.