Radio host Rush Limbaugh quipped that Democrats would try to scare people about a government shutdown by claiming it would harm food programs for children -- something a lengthy government shutdown would, in fact, do.
On the September 30 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh claimed that Democrats were exaggerating the effects of a shutdown, citing a Washington Post article reporting that a government shutdown would result in disconnection of a video feed for the baby panda exhibit at the National Zoo. Limbaugh added that “next we'll hear that the school lunch program is being cut -- shut down because of this.”
But according to a Contingency and Reconstitution Plan issued September 27 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Service, states would have to decide whether to continue food assistance programs “at their own risk with the understanding that Federal funds may not be forthcoming.” The plan highlighted the specific program impacts for several programs that provide food assistance for needy children [emphasis added]:
No additional federal funds would be available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)'s clinical services, food benefits and administrative costs. States may have some funds available from infant formula rebates or other sources, including spend forward authority, to continue operations for a week or so, but States would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period. Contingency funds will be available to help States -- but even this funding would not fully mitigate a shortfall for the entire month of October.
No additional federal funds would be available to support the Commodity Assistance Programs (CAP) including the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) administrative funding, and the WIC Farmers' Markets Nutrition Program (FMNP). Similarly, no new funds will be available to support the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). While there would be some inventory available for use in food packages, no carryover, contingency or other funds would be available to support continued operations.