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Pending government shutdown could rip away millions of Americans SNAP benefits

Philadelphia nonprofit worries about possible government shutdown impacting SNAP
Philadelphia nonprofit worries about possible government shutdown impacting SNAP 02:00

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Every Wednesday, Diane Harris comes to Grace Lutheran Church in West Philadelphia. 

She is one of nearly two million Pennsylvanians who benefit from the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- or SNAP - according to Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services.

READ MORE: What is a government shutdown? Here's what happens if funding runs out

For the last 16 years, this has helped Harris -- who's on a fixed income and diabetic -- put food on her table.

"It helps me get the things like, the drinks that I need, like the diet drink. And it helps me get the Ensure. It just helps me get things I couldn't afford," she said.

However, the pending government shutdown could jeopardize SNAP benefits.

"These programs allow families to bridge the gap," Chelsea Short said.

Short is with Philabundance, a nonprofit that receives funds from the government and provides food to places like Grace Lutheran Church. They work with more than 350 community partners in Philadelphia and South Jersey. The nonprofit serves 140,000 on any given week.

She said if the government shuts down, people could lose their SNAP benefits at the end of October. 

"The shutdown of these programs are going to impact families tremendously. Families are already feeling the pinch at the grocery store with rising food cost, rising cost of rent, things of that nature," Short said. Not having access to these federal programs are going to make families already struggling, struggle more."

Harris remains hopeful but if a shutdown does happen, she will adapt.

"We will have to do things differently. We have to eat differently," Harris said.

With the impending shutdown, Philabundance said donations are crucial and every dollar counts. 

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