Shutdown affects Central Texas food banks, food stamp recipients

(Photo by Christy Soto)
(Photo by Christy Soto)(KWTX)
Published: Jan. 21, 2019 at 11:25 AM CST
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Central Texas Food Banks and Food stamp recipients are feeling the effects of the government shutdown after millions of Texans received their food stamps almost a month in advance.

Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry typically serves around 500 people a week, but Executive Director Bob Gager said in the last month the pantry has picked up 113 new clients.

Gager said he’s seen an increase in people, but a decrease in the food he is able to purchase from the Central Texas Food Bank.

“What I see on the shopping list isn’t as loaded as we'd like it to be or what is considered normal,” Gager said.

Gager said there were limited amounts of nutritional items like meats and produce on the banks' list. Therefore, he has had to find other sources for these items.

"If the need grows even more, then we might just be keeping pace but I am trying to stay ahead of the curb,” Gager said.

"The people in the line are concerned, they really are but we just want to quail their fears, we're here."

Every Thursday people wait in line at Sheppard’s pantry.

Waco resident Gill Matas is a food stamp recipient who said he is worried for what lies ahead.

"We are just trying to survive…for us it's a living, it's a struggle, and we're surviving the best way we know how," Matas said.

Matas every month visits the pantry, but he said this month is unlike the rest because of the stress of the government shutdown.

Matas was one of the 3.5 million Texans who received their food stamps for February almost a month in advance.

“Where do I go from there? Am I going to have to starve all month of February or hit the food pantries, not just me everybody else we are all affected by this?" Matas said.