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A longer freeze on funding and services, however, is something they don't want to think about.

At the Bagwell Food Pantry in Rome, an average of 30 to 40 families each day get about two weeks’ worth of nonperishable groceries. Dawn Hayes, the volunteer and program coordinator, said demand hasn't spiked since the shutdown began Dec. 23.

That's likely because families eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program received their February SNAP allocation early.

"They have their February food stamps so, if we see anything, it will be maybe in March," Hayes said. "But a lot of these folks do the EZ form tax return so they get their refunds quickly. We usually have a slow February."

They don't ask the clients' reasons for needing food, so Hayes said she doesn't know if any are federal employees. Still, she's noticed there are more calls for the pantry's "superpacks," the backpacks they fill with meals and snacks for students to be sure they're fed over the weekends.

"I have no idea if the two are connected, but we've had some schools call and ask if we can add four or five kids here and there," Hayes said.

There's also been a hold on orders through the Georgia Nutrition Assistance Program, so the pantry's getting tight on kid-friendly supplies. Local grocery stores and other donors keep the shelves stocked with canned goods and staples, Hayes said, but GNAP is where they get smaller items.

"We need things like fruit cups, individual oatmeal packs, peanut butter crackers — anything for a kindergartner to a senior in high school," she said. "We try to give them individual items that are lightweight."

Donors can bring supplies to the pantry at 207 E. 19th St. between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. They're closed on Wednesdays. Families are served by referral, mostly from Good Neighbor Ministries and downtown churches.

In Polk County there's been a definite increase in requests for assistance at Helping Hands Food Pantry, although the director, Betty Cornwell, said they're not tracking the reasons.

"We were holding steady at about 100 families a week, but we've been averaging about 120 lately," Cornwell said. "In December we had 36 new families who hadn't been here before."

Cornwell said they're hoping the federal government will reopen and restore SNAP funding by the time the March payment is due.

"We have a lot of people who come every 30 days to supplement what they get. If they don't get what they usually get, I expect we'll hear about it," she said with a sigh.

Meanwhile, they could use some help themselves — with food, volunteers and cash to put gas in the truck they use to pick up daily donations. The food bank for Polk residents, at 221 B S. Piedmont Ave., is open five days a week.

"The need is building," Cornwell said. "We really do need volunteers who could give us any amount of time, even if it's only for an hour. Especially when we do our distributions on Tuesday and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m."

In Northwest Georgia, 14.76 percent of the households were dependent on SNAP, according to a 2018 region profile by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's nearly 40,000 households across Floyd and the other 11 counties in the 14th Congressional District.

The profile shows that 79.8 percent of the SNAP families had at least one employed worker in the past 12 months. However, 50.6 percent lived below the poverty level, with a median income of $20,319 (in 2016 dollars).

Just over half the families had children under the age of 18 and 53.4 percent had at least one disabled member. A little more than 30 percent of the households have one or more people age 60 or older.