County Funded Food Banks Had Braced for Federal Shutdown, Will Reserves Hold Out?

A federal shutdown can compound already increased demand on some county funded food banks and pantries across the state. Will those reserves be enough to cover current increases and a potential shutdown if an agreement is not reach before the 45 day extension expires?

With COVID-19 emergency funding depleted, a government shutdown can compound the already growing demand on local food banks and pantries. As a Maryland Matters article recently highlighted, demand on food banks is already up for the year with the end of COVID-era programs that were able to bolsters food services. Residents and families affected by a government shutdown could add to the already growing number of individuals facing food insecurity.

Many food banks and pantries around the state are supported by local, state, and federal resources. If funding and food deliveries are interrupted, these local options will need to rely on reserves and State and local governments to cover the portion of services and funding that will be interrupted in the event of a federal shutdown. For instance, with an additional $1M in funding from the Anne Arundel County government for FY24, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank is one location that is well positioned to meet the demand. But if a federal shutdown begins, they might have to start dipping into reserves and curtail any existing plans the might have had for those additional dollars.

According to the Maryland Matters article, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank feels ready to weather the storm if they need to begin purchasing more food to meet the demand. But CEO Leah Paley did share one concern – even if they are able to purchase the additional food they might run into distribution challenges in getting the inventory to the other pantries fast enough to keep food on the shelves. With a new countdown clock ticking, local food services are hoping for the best but preparing for even more pressure.