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How The Looming Government Shutdown Could Put Millions Of Moms & Their Kids In Very Real Danger

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looming government shutdown means hungry, struggling families

If you’ve scrolled through any news site in the last few weeks, two words might have jumped out at you: government shutdown. You might have felt a vague sense of déjà vu, dating back to late 2018 into early 2019, when the federal government shut down for 35 days.

If Congress fails to agree on a federal budget by October 1st, 2023, the government will essentially close until an agreement is reached. 

There are almost 4 million Americans employed by the federal government; if the shutdown goes through, essential workers will stay at work without a paycheck, while the rest will be furloughed, also without a paycheck.



While the idea of the federal government screeching to a halt might seem abstract, it would have very real consequences on people’s lives.

A government shutdown could put millions of moms and their kids in danger.

Food insecurity would become a very real issue, one directly affecting moms, kids, people living in poverty, and the elderly. According to CNN, SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called food stamps, is set to receive benefits through October. Yet the US Department of Agriculture reports that once October ends, what would happen next for the program is entirely unknown.

A shutdown would absolutely create major challenges for a mom’s ability to feed her kids, as there aren’t sufficient funds to support WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, past a few days into a shutdown. What would happen next for that particular program would depend on whether individual states have money to continue funding.

person feeding infant with a bottlePhoto: Sarah Chai / Pexels 

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In total, 7 million mothers and their children would lose crucial support in keeping themselves fed.

In addition to funding for assistance programs being affected, funding for food banks would be disrupted, as well. In a shutdown, food banks would be able to place new orders and some of their existing deliveries might not go through, leaving America’s most vulnerable citizens without a way to get food on their tables.

Federal reimbursements to Meals on Wheels would be delayed, which would ripple out in devastating ways. The non-profit organization provides food for over 2.8 million elderly people each year; in the event of a shutdown, they might have to reduce the number of meals they deliver or even shut down themselves. 

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While the threat of a shutdown looms, there exist other shifts in federal funding that would negatively impact moms and kids, directly.

Over the past three years of the pandemic, Congress set aside $24 billion in stimulus money for childcare programming, The Washington Post reports. Yet states are about to run out of that funding, leaving kids, parents, and caregivers standing on an uneven precipice, trying to keep their balance. Without that immense boost from federal funding, around 70,000 childcare programs, or 1 in 3, would close their doors. 3.2 million children would lose the care they’ve been provided up to now. 

According to additional reporting from The Washington Post, the programs that would be most immediately impacted would be family-run, in-home daycare centers. These centers provide more affordable and flexible options for parents seeking care for their kids, especially for those living in rural areas, or those who support their families through shift work.

The loss of childcare funding would lead to epic closures of necessary facilities, which would create a loss of $10.6 billion in economic activity within the US. Daycare providers would lose their sole source of income. Parents would lose the support networks they so desperately need to stay afloat. 

toddlers playingPhoto: Cottonbro Studios / Pexels 

Government policies, which often feel wildly abstract, have tangible, real-life effects on real people.

Kids deserve care. Parents deserve to afford that care. And everyone, no matter how rich or poor, deserves access to food, the most basic part of staying alive.

We are long overdue for policy shifts that actually protect people. Instead of playing politics and concerning themselves with stand-offs over who wields more power, officials in Congress need to return to their roots and remember the people who got them there in the first place. To let the government shut down would actively cause harm to US citizens, all across the country.

No matter what side of the spectrum anyone’s political beliefs adhere to, it seems as though we agree that change is imminent. Let’s just hope it's the kind of change that allows people to thrive. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.