While the federal government has reopened, the country’s longest government shutdown continues to impact Delawareans, including the 136,000 individuals who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to purchase food.

Because February SNAP benefits were issued early, this could result in some households having as much as a two-month gap between benefits according to the issuance schedule. The additional delay between issuance due to the shutdown will disrupt family budgets and many SNAP recipients are likely to need help filling this gap beginning in February and extending well into March.

“We know that many of our 136,000 SNAP clients will face challenges making their current food benefits last until the next food benefits are issued,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “That’s why we are collaborating with the Food Bank of Delaware and other community partners on this statewide food drive. Please join us in being there for our neighbors in need, because no one in Delaware should go hungry.”

Resources are available for Delawareans experiencing a “SNAP gap.”

— Delaware 2-1-1: Delawareans struggling to afford food may contact Delaware 2-1-1 by dialing 211 or 800-560-3372 or texting 231-1464 to find a food pantry located in their community. For a searchable database of resources, visit delaware211.org.

— State Service Centers: Clients already visiting Delaware State Service Centers may ask their case workers for food assistance through on-site food pantries.

— Food Bank of Delaware: The Food Bank will host three large outdoor mobile pantries in February to help meet increased demands for food assistance. To receive food, recipients must bring their EBT card and fill out paperwork on site. Distributions will begin at 11 a.m. and food will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Mobile pantries are set for Feb. 8 at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown; Feb. 15 at Calvary Church, 1141 E. Lebanon Road, Dover; and Feb. 22 at Canaan Baptist Church, 3011 New Castle Ave., New Castle.

“It is our mission to step up to ensure that no Delawarean goes without food,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “Food-insecure families already have to stretch their monthly food budgets, and we know that SNAP benefits do not last the entire month — 90 percent of SNAP benefits are usually spent within the first three weeks of a month. To meet these increased demands from our neighbors, we stand ready to do all that we can. We cannot do this alone. The support of our community is needed.”

To help meet these increased demands for food assistance, the Food Bank of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services have launched a Neighbors Helping Neighbors food drive through March 1.

Most needed foods include canned meats like tuna fish and chicken, canned fruits, canned vegetables, peanut butter, cereal and pasta.

To help reduce costs associated with food drives, food drive organizers are asked to use their own collection boxes, or collection barrels may be picked up at the Food Bank locations at 14 Garfield Way, Newark, or 1040 Mattlind Way, Milford, anytime from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The Food Bank of Delaware will only be able to pick up donations larger than 20 boxes/bags.