The partial government shutdown earlier this year lasted more than a month and thousands of federal employees and their families across Los Angeles County felt the effects. They missed paychecks, and many were faced with tough decisions.
The food bank, with a robust food inventory, had enough food resources to meet the increased needs of our pantry network. However, if the federal shutdown had continued and SNAP/CalFresh and WIC benefits were cut off, we would have been concerned with our ability to keep up.
Most working people cannot imagine a scenario in which they end up in line for food assistance. However, recent events, both locally and nationally, have left many working families and individuals temporarily at risk for food insecurity and malnutrition.
We heard of an air traffic controller in Santa Clarita. He had been working in his current job for more than eight years, so this was not the first time he had weathered a partial government shutdown. However, he said this time was different. “The length definitely differentiates this shutdown from the previous shutdowns,” he said.
First thing every morning, he logged on to his computer or phone to check the status of the shutdown. His spending behavior had to change drastically and while he had some emergency savings, it was not enough if the shutdown continued. His main concern was paying his mortgage. “It’s something I continually worry about,” he said.
“I had a car payment that I had to call my credit union and defer because the amount was too great to try to couple with my mortgage payment. Thankfully they were able to do that, but I don’t know that everyone has that option.”
He had never had to visit a food pantry in the past, but was familiar with some agencies in his community from when he used to volunteer. Lately, he has been researching his options, hoping that some food assistance can provide a cushion to allow him to pay other bills. He wanted people to know he is grateful for all those who donated and volunteered to provide relief for others.