DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A judge has ruled that food-shelf operators across Minnesota can continue to distribute food despite the state government shutdown.

The Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank had been informed last week it would have to cease shipments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of the shutdown. That’s because a state employee is needed to handle certain administrative aspects of the program.

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Food pantries responded by petitioning to have the Emergency Food Assistance Program declared an essential service.

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Shaye Moris is an executive director with Second Harvest. She tells the Duluth News Tribune a hearing had been set for Tuesday but a judge decided to act immediately and grant their request.

Second Harvest distributes 64,000 pounds of food each month to 27 food shelves throughout Northeastern Minnesota.

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