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County Encourages Food Benefit Recipients To Prepare For No Disbursement


An estimated 57,000 households in Mecklenburg County receive government food benefits, but come March, those benefits could run out due to the partial federal government shutdown. On Sunday, February’s benefits were distributed early to those people who receive nutritional assistance.

Men Tchaas Ari
Credit Mecklenburg County Government
Men Tchaas Ari, Deputy Director, Adult and Economic Services

The county’s deputy director of economic services, Men Tchaas Ari said many questions remain unanswered.

“We’ve never had a disruption in the food stamp program, so I think folks are hoping that it will continue," Ari said. "But there is the looming reality that if this is not resolved, March will look very different for people in our community who need these services the most.”

Related Story: Future Of Food Stamps Uncertain As Shutdown Continues

Ari said the Department of Social Services has let recipients know that they should manage their food resources.  

“We're just encouraging people to be creative and really budget," he said. "What we didn’t want folks to do is think that the additional allotment they received on Sunday was an error and spend it quickly, or think that they have to turn it back in. We really wanted them to know that it was purposeful.”

Ari said the county is in early talks with local food banks and nonprofits, but no specifics have been worked out yet on helping food stamp recipients if the partial government shutdown continues. But in the meantime, Ari advised different measures like using coupons in conjunction with food benefits.

“We're just encouraging people to be creative," he said. "But the reality is, we cannot guarantee. The federal government is not guaranteeing benefits will be available in the month of March.”  

Ari said if food benefit recipients have questions or concerns they are encouraged to contact the Department of Social Services at 704-336-3000.

Sarafina Wright is the "All Things Considered" producer for WFAE 90.7 Charlotte’s NPR Source. Before coming to WFAE, she worked as a political correspondent for EBONY.com, staff writer at the Washington Informer and editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge in Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Howard University. When she's not writing professionally, Sarafina can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com or hanging out with her book club, Charlotte West.