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Looming debt ceiling impacts San Diego food relief organizations

Military families and veterans who receive government paychecks may not have enough food to put on the table if Congress doesn't make a debt ceiling deal.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego non-profits say if Congress doesn't act, this could be catastrophic for organizations that help families in need, including veterans and military members who rely on government paychecks.  

As Feeding San Diego volunteers work to move and unload pallets of produce, they may have difficulty refilling shelves if Congress doesn't devise a plan to pay its bills.  

“This could be catastrophic on top of what hunger relief organizations have already been facing with drops in donations because of inflation,” said Carissa Casares, senior communications manager, Feeding San Diego.  

She says while donations have gone down, meal distributions have not.  

Pre-pandemic, they said volunteers packed 26 million meals in 2019, and in 2022 it was 35 million meals. 

Families who rely on government paychecks, such as veterans and active-duty military, may be forced to turn to food banks for help.  

“You see avocados and watermelon, and we may have to provide less of that if we see a huge spike in people coming to good distributions,” said Casares.   

The Armed Services of YMCA says it is preparing to help its families if there is a government shutdown.

Military families have a unique lifestyle with daily challenges; at times, some face hardships like food insecurity. The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) is proud of our support, such as, food pantry access, food distribution events and centers, quality, affordable childcare and more. Just as we have in the past, the ASYMCA stands ready to surge resources and support these families the best we can. This can mean longer service hours for food pantries, increased distribution events, and even more offerings when possible.” 

This happened when pandemic funding ended for CalFresh recipients, the state's food stamp program. 

Some families' monthly stipends went from 281 dollars to $23 per month.  

“This is the worst possible time for something like this to be happening to people who are working people just trying to put food on the table, keep their kids fed, go to school, and might be working multiple jobs to pay for some of this cost-of-living increase in San Diego,” said Casares.  

Despite this potential hardship, Feeding San Diego says they’re committed to moving around food and hope the government can raise enough money to help families overcome food insecurity.  

“We need this support of our governor to create stability,” said Casares. 

She says the non-profit receives about 5 percent of its funding from the government, so the debt ceiling would not have a major impact.  

Feeding San Diego needs donations, particularly monetary donations. Casares says $1 can turn into two meals.  

CBS 8 is proud to partner with Feeding San Diego. 

To learn more about donations, click here

WATCH RELATED: Farmers donating fresh produce to Feeding San Diego, including organic Escondido mushroom farm (March 2023).


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