Charlotte, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday approved releasing $750,000 from state funds to help seven regional food banks stock up during the ongoing federal government shutdown.
Separately, the North Carolina Department of Justice identified $2 million in consumer restitution funds that will go to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which will act as an umbrella group for food pantries throughout the state.
“Food banks are a lifeline for many people in our state, and they need our support,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. “We’re investing in our food banks to help struggling families and encourage others to get involved by donating or volunteering in their local communities.”
McCrory urged the government to settle the federal budget impasse, noting people rely on many services in their daily lives.
"Federal services are not political chess pieces. Real people are being impacted in very real ways. The political brinkmanship must end,” he said in a statement.
Last week, the shutdown forced a two-day suspension of issuing new vouchers for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, also known as WIC. North Carolina was the only state to stop issuing vouchers for the federally funded program.
DHHS started issuing vouchers again Friday after securing contingency funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency also plans to use lapsing funds from last year and product rebates from Nestle Foods, a WIC formula manufacturer, to keep the program running through the end of October.
In addition to WIC, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said, a prolonged federal shutdown could affect November Work First Family Assistance. The Work First program provides support to more than 20,000 working parents and caregivers in North Carolina.
Federal child care subsidy funds are also in danger of drying up. Up to 72,000 North Carolina children could be affected if that program is halted. As of Friday, at least 23 counties had already suspended payments for all or a portion of child care.
“This is heartbreaking," Wos said in a statement. "My top concern is that, as the shutdown lingers, there will be hardship for those who depend on these services. The situation remains very fluid, but I am committed to doing everything in my power to minimize the impact on our most vulnerable citizens. I urge federal officials to fulfill their responsibilities.”
In 2012, the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks and its affiliated soup kitchens, child care facilities and senior meal programs distributed almost 127 million pounds of nutritious food to North Carolinians in need. About 170,200 people statewide receive emergency food assistance in any given week.