UPDATE: Chattanooga Area Food Bank preparing for impact of government shutdown
UPDATE: So far they’ve raised nearly $1,000! Awesome job to everyone who donated.
PREVIOUS: Now in day 27 of a partial government shutdown, several government-funded food assistance agencies are expected to run out of resources soon.
"Currently SNAP benefits are being paid through the end of February, but what happens after that at this point isn't clear," said Sophie Moore with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
Organizers at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank say they're preparing emergency food kits as if it were for a natural disaster.
"Wick and Free and Reduced School Meals also may be impacted," Moore continued.
The food bank is anticipating an additional need in the community and trying to raise $25,000 to support it.
"These are programs that, if people lose access to them, puts even more pressure on them to put food on the table when they're already having a difficult time," Moore told Channel 3.
Many in the community are just beginning to feel its effects, particularly those approaching their second missed paycheck.
"Forty-percent of Americans could not cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense, so the lack of a paycheck or access to benefits puts a lot of families in a tough position," she explained. "Many people like government employees and TSA workers who've never needed food assistance are coming to us for the first time and we're here to help them," Moore went on.
She says the food bank's partner agencies are doing all they can to make up for the loss in resources.
"We received a request for help for our TSA workers and air traffic controllers. They work really hard to protect us every day, so it's the least we could do to help them with access to food during this time," she said.
Moore says the entire community is needed to raise that $25,000 needed to fill the gap. You can donate by clicking here but that isn't the only way you can help. You can also volunteer over at the food bank.
If you or someone you know in Hamilton County is in need of food assistance, you can call 2-1-1. If you live outside of Hamilton County, you can click here to find resources.
ORIGINAL STORY: Hamilton County residents affected by the government shutdown can get help with food.
The Chattanooga Food Bank said residents can call 211 or 423-265-8000 for emergency food assistance.
People who live outside of Hamilton County can also get assistance. Visit the Chattanooga Area Food Bank's website to find organizations across the Tennessee Valley who can assist you.
The food bank is also accepting donations from people who want to help their affected neighbors. They launched a campaign on Facebook to raise $25,000 to help families affected by the shutdown.
"Many families who may have never needed food assistance may be turning to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank for the first time," a food bank spokesperson said. "As the shutdown continues, many more may also lose important SNAP, WIC and other benefits. We need your help to prepare to serve every family, child, SNAP recipient, government employee, and community member who is struggling to put nutritious meals on their family's table. Please consider making a special gift to help us meet the increased need. Every dollar helps to provide four nutritious meals."
For more information or to donate, visit the Chattanooga Area Food Bank's website.