As this unnecessary government shutdown continues, I was trying to research what if any affects it will have in Kentucky, especially since that evil fucker Mitch McConnell is assisting Trump in inflicting pain on government workers. There appears to be bad and truly scary news with regards to the SNAP and Free and Reduced Lunches programs. However, this all assumes that Trump and McConnell let this continue into March or longer.
And I do not think that is out of the realm of possibility.
First up, SNAP:
Current participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is administered nationally by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will receive their February benefits this month, according to a news release from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (KCHFS).
February benefits for SNAP customers will be loaded early onto their EBT cards on Sunday, Jan. 20. They may use these funds immediately at any authorized retailer. But SNAP customers should keep in mind no further benefits will be distributed in February because of the partial government shutdown.
How might this affect Kentuckians?
Of the top 100 counties ranked by the share of population that participates in SNAP, 85 are rural, according to 2015 Census data. And the few metropolitan counties that did make the top-100 list are predominately in smaller metro areas.
The list of counties that are most reliant on SNAP encompasses regions with well documented and chronic poverty. The top three counties are in Indian Country — South Dakota and Alaska. The next county on the list, with 48% of its population participating, is in West Virginia’s coalfields. Next is a Mississippi county in the Delta. And rounding out the top six is a county on the Cumberland Plateau of Eastern Kentucky.
I believe the estimates for the number of Appalachian residents on SNAP ranges from 20-60% of the population. And rural stores get a significant amount of income from SNAP recipients. This will not be a surprise to those who live in places like Kentucky and West Virginia.
Next, I should have thought of this before, but I teach in a high school in a rural county in Kentucky. The last estimate was that 37% of the students at my school were on the free or reduced lunch program. Supposedly, this was a drop from the 53% we had the previous year. It struck me that maybe the government shutdown might affect the free and reduced lunch program.
For now, it appears there is funding for the free and reduced lunch prorgam. From what I have read, the program is funded quarterly. However, it does not mean that there will be no affects:
The National School Lunch Program (NSLC), a federally funded initiative that provides more than 30 million at-need youth with nutritious meals, could be at risk if the shutdown, now in its 28th day month and counting, continues…
As the record-breaking federal shutdown—which President Donald Trump warns could last years without funding for a southern border wall—approaches its second month, North Carolina’s Vance School District informed district members in Facebook post that its lunch menus will be “revised to a minimum level to conserve food and funding” starting next week.
According to the post: “No fresh produce will be included, except at elementary schools as part of the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program. This program will be decreased to two days each week. No bottled drinks (water and juice) will be available after the current inventory in stock is used. No ice cream will be available.”
While this is in NC, I can tell you as a former resident there that NC looks super prosperous compared to Kentucky. I’m betting the same evaluation is going on in KY, but no one has gone out yet to make similar announcements. And my experience as a teacher also tells me that the administrators will not let us know anything until the last possible moment.
That’s not cynicism. That’s the reality of the situation. Teachers are the last to know anything unless they have connections.
Why bring up this potentially disastrous scenario? As I stated earlier, this is not out of the realm of possibilities. Trump and McConnell do not care how much pain is inflicted on anyone. But McConnell cares about staying in power. If McConnell sees his approval ratings go back down in KY, he might budge.
McConnell’s approval rating went up in KY when he shoved Kavanaugh on the SCOTUS. The rednecks and racists in KY loved that McConnell was helping Trump out. But I wonder how many of those poorer rednecks and racists will love Trump and McConnell when they or their kids go hungry?
McConnell and Trump may cave before the end of March, but never count out the cold heartedness of either man.