Government Shutdown | The Food Bank’s Response
By Megan Bailey
As the partial government shutdown continues, more than 18,000 federal workers in our 11 county service area aren’t receiving a paycheck — a paycheck that they need to support themselves and their families. And without this paycheck, they may not be able to make ends meet and as time goes on, the need will continue to grow. We are hopeful that this will all end soon, but in the meantime… What do families do next?
This situation has us all asking questions. How will I take care of my family? Where can I tell my colleagues and friends to go if they need assistance? How can I help my neighbors who are impacted right now? Not knowing where to go or what to do can be scary and we hope we can answer some questions for you with this post.
ARE YOU IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE?
At the Food Bank we always want to be a resource when our neighbors need help. For federal employees in need, please know that we are here for you. Below are highlighted resources to help you through this difficult time.
- Emergency food is available for all in need, please call the Food Bank at 412-460-3663 so that we can provide food to you in this emergency. We are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- We operate Produce to People distributions in eight counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. These distributions provide 30 to 50 pounds of food, consisting mostly of fresh produce. Please note that we are prepared for the estimated increase in families at these regularly scheduled distributions. You can print a full Produce to People calendar here. The calendar includes full location information. Below are upcoming distributions:
- Southside on January 26, 10 a.m. to noon
- Beaver Falls on January 26, 10 a.m. to noon
- Braddock on February 2, 10 a.m. to noon
- Washington County on February 5, 10 a.m. to noon
- Cambria County on February 6, 10 a.m. to noon
- Sheraden on February 7, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- West Green County on February 8, 10 a.m. to noon
- Homewood on February 9, 10 a.m. to noon
- New Castle on February 9, 11 a.m to 12:30 p.m.
- Allegheny Valley on February 12, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Duquesne on February 14, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Fayette County on February 14, 10 a.m. to noon
- Aliquippa on February 15, 10 a.m. to noon
- McKeesport on February 16, 10 a.m. to noon
- Northside on February 16, 10 a.m. to noon
- Butler on February 26, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Green County on February 28, 10 a.m. to noon
- In addition to Produce to People, we held a special distribution for those impacted by the government shutdown at our facility in Duquesne on January 24 at 5:30 p.m.
- We are exploring additional locations to hold special distributions throughout southwestern PA to fully serve the federal employees in our service area. Our response is quickly evolving, so to stay in the loop we recommend that you follow us on Facebook to stay connected.
- February SNAP benefits will be distributed by the end of the day, January 16. March benefits are still vulnerable to the federal shutdown. If the government reopens by March, people will get their March benefits when they normally would. No additional benefits will be added in February. USDA is encouraging all participating SNAP recipients to plan their purchases carefully.
- The website MyFedBenefits has options for help, with an interactive map that points to food and loan assistance options.
- 412 Food Rescue has set up seven pop-up food distribution centers for federal workers and SNAP recipients. This link will be updated with hours and locations as the furlough continues.
- In response to the Government Shutdown the Food Bank is holding a Pop-Up distribution at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on January 30th. Volunteer times are from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. We need 50 volunteers to help out at this event. Click here to register.
Through PA 2-1-1, the United Way of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of Government Employees District 3, have launched a text code initiative which will provide information and updates aimed to help impacted workers cope with the shutdown. This service will connect federal government employees and contractors who are impacted by the partial federal government shutdown to community resources such as assistance with food, utilities, housing, etc. launching an initiative today to support. This initiative will be available throughout the shutdown.
Beginning Friday, January 18, people should text FEDSD to 898-211 to receive updates and information through 2-1-1 via text. The text code will be active throughout the shutdown. When FEDSD is texted to 898-211 it will direct subscribers to specific resources and how to connect with a 2-1-1 center if their need is urgent. 2-1-1 is a 24/7/365 service that connects people to community organizations who can help with their health and human service needs.
Statewide and/or regional resources are also being collected by this coalition and are available on the Government Shutdown Resources web page.
- There are interest-free loans available to federal furloughed employees up to $2,500 through Hebrew Free Loan Association. To qualify, the government workers must live in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington or Westmoreland counties. All federal workers not being paid including those qualified as essential, non-essential, or contractors are eligible. The loans do not have to be repaid until the workers are reinstated and receiving paychecks. You can learn more at and apply at www.hflapgh.org.
**January 18 Update **
- The first distribution to Federal Employees (TSA and Air Traffic Control)who work at Pittsburgh International Airport is scheduled for Tuesday, January 22 at 1 p.m. This distribution will be emergency food boxes, fresh produce and household items. Airport ID will be required for distribution.
- Advantage Credit Counseling Services has collected various information on how to manage your finances during a furlough, find out more here.
** January 17 Update **
- There was a Here to Help Community Resources Fair for federal workers on the South Side Friday, January 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Union Hall so that federal workers can come to find out about resources available to them. The resource fair will feature information and representatives from state and social service agencies including: L&I’s Unemployment Compensation Service Center; the Department of Human Services, Allegheny County Assistance Office; PA CareerLink® Pittsburgh/Allegheny County (including a veterans services representative); Advantage Credit Counseling Services; and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
- As many unpaid, but still working federal workers will be off Monday, January 21 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we will be holding a special emergency food distribution here at our facility in Duquesne from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
DO YOU WANT TO HELP?
We are anticipating an impact of an additional $100,000 per week to meet the additional need of federal employees who haven’t previously received assistance from the food bank or our partners, people who rely on SNAP or WIC or are in the process of applying for some federal assistance programs and others. This is a big need, but you can make a difference. You can make a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/feedourswpafeds, give via mail or call us at 412-745-6465.
With the increase in individuals needing assistance, we are planning to ramp up volunteer recruitment efforts. If you, your family or friends would like to get involved please reach out to our Volunteer Team at 412-745-7600 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEED TO CONTACT US?
Need more info about getting help?
If you have additional questions about emergency food, distributions or need any additional info, call our front desk at 412-745-6597.
Need additional resources beyond food?
Call the United Way Helpline at 2-1-1.
Would you like to donate but want to know more?
If you would like to make a gift but have additional questions or concerns, please email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 412-745-6466.
Would you like to volunteer?
Please reach out to our Volunteer Team by phone at 412-745-7600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a media-related question about the shutdown?
Please email us at email@example.com to connect with our team.