How Feeding America and its food bank network are responding to the government shutdown

Robert Wincek, a former commercial and home real estate contractor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
January 15, 2019
by Paul Morello

As the partial government shutdown continues, more than 800,000 federal workers aren’t getting paid.  On top of that, federal contractors and grantees also haven’t been paid. They’re going without the check they need to support their families. And that means – through no fault of their own – that many may struggle to make ends meet.

TSA agents, members of the Coast Guard, Park Rangers, security guards and more are among those not getting paid. This puts them and their families at risk of hunger. And yet, many are working through the shutdown to ensure our country is safe.

The need will only grow as these employees miss additional paychecks. While we hope that won’t happen, household budgets could be affected for months to come. But Feeding America and our network of food banks are stepping in to fill the gap.

How is the Feeding America network responding?

Just a few weeks ago, federal workers were enjoying the holidays with their families, but still were facing the uncertainty of the government shutdown that had just begun. Now, many are being forced to seek help from local food banks – something they’ve never needed to do in the past.

To meet that need, many food banks in the Feeding America network are reaching out to their communities, connecting federal workers with emergency food resources and encouraging them to visit local pantries. 

Others are adding distributions to meet needs specific to their area. For example, Feeding the Gulf Coast, a food bank serving South Mississippi, South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle - areas with a large Coast Guard population - is increasing distributions and mobile pantries.

Some food banks are also deploying pop-up food pantries to support TSA agents who have been impacted by the shutdown. St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix is distributing food to TSA agents. Other food banks are setting up temporary pantries at airports, including Feeding Tampa Bay and Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Still others are increasing distributions and extending their hours. The Food Bank of Santa Barbara County is distributing food to government workers this week at two special events. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is adding distributions at their two warehouses. And, the Foodbank of the Albemarle in North Carolina is opening up on Wednesdays – a day they’re normally closed – to help support families in their community impacted by the shutdown.

On a national level, Feeding America is sharing with the Administration and Congress the impact of the shutdown on people facing hunger. We’re making sure lawmakers understand what we’re seeing – that many workers live one paycheck away from hunger.  We are also working through the impact the shutdown is having on federal nutrition programs that provide vital food assistance to millions of families across the country.

How you can help

Sign our virtual thank you card to food banks to let them know how much their work means to those in need during the shutdown. You can also contact your local food bank or make a donation to Feeding America to ensure we’ll be able to provide food for our neighbors now and after the shutdown ends.