Food pantries see increase of need in wake of funding fears - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Food pantries see increase of need in wake of funding fears

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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The Alabama Women, Infants, and Children program, known as WIC, will have funds to operate through October. Participants will be limited to one month's worth of benefits, but the future of the funding remains uncertain.

With the uncertainty of federally funded food programs like WIC, food banks expect to see an increase in orders from the agencies they support, as people turn to those places for help.

One of those agencies is the Manna House in Huntsville. The organization is already noticing a difference because of the government shut down. Food lines are growing longer with people who no longer have a paycheck.

"We don't want people to be afraid. We want them to know we are here. There is help. Don't panic," said Director Fran Fluhler.

The organization provides fresh food and other necessities to people in need.

During sequestration, the pantry saw a 35 percent increase in customers.

Fluhler expects that number to be bigger this time around if federally funded food programs go unfunded and government workers remain unpaid.

"I think sequestration didn't feel as real. It was temporary but this feels real. People aren't sure where we are going," explained Fluhler.

Right now the future of the Women, Infants and Children, or WIC program, remains uncertain, and so do the paychecks of federal workers.

"We know that it is day-to-day. Tomorrow they might honor WIC. Next week they might honor WIC, but right now we've got to get prepared in case they don't," added Fluhler.

The agency is reaching out to food banks and other sources in the community for help in stocking its shelves.

"We have gone ahead and started buying extra food just to be on the safe side so that we have a reserve in order to handle the increasing numbers," explained Fluhler.

The organization hopes the food they provide will help take the edge off and get people through this crisis.

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