MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Americans relying on government assistance could experience a major bump in benefits because of the government shutdown, but the extra money comes with a cost.
Families are getting their regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits early to cover January and February, which is causing quite the rush at some grocery stores.
But March funding remains unclear at this time. Families are warned to be cautious with their spending for now, because once that's gone, there's no telling when more will come.
"For three days I've been trying to get in the Superlo stores and the line was just overcrowded," shopper Philip Dortch said. "It was just impossible, I had to turn around and come back out."
He says the shutdown is pushing people into panic mode, and it shows.
"They are fearful," he said. "No one wants their family to go without food."
Going into day 31 of the government shutdown, Dortch says he sees why people are grabbing whatever they can in stores.
"With all the uncertainty right now I don't really blame them."
Another shopper who didn't want to be named said that once the January and February benefits run out, and if the shutdown continues, he thinks people will get desperate.
"Now you are fixing to have people running in and out of stores, running out with food, just because the government is shut down," the man said.
He thinks shoppers should slow down on the spending.
"With the government going the way it’s going, we don't know if you'll be able to get food two, three, four, five months down the line," he said.
And that's the scary part for SNAP recipients. But this shopper believes it's all about using the benefits wisely, spending only what you need and making the rest stretch.
"Majority of them have kids, and some of them are doing the right things with their benefits and some are doing the wrong things," he said.