When the Government Shut Down, You Spoke Up | Maryland Food Bank
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When the Government Shut Down, You Spoke Up

February 6, 2019

On any given day in Maryland, around 665,420 people don’t know where their next meal might come from. When the federal government shut down on December 28, it was clear that another 172,000 federal workers who call our state home would find themselves in a situation similar to their food-insecure neighbors, seeking out the food assistance safety net to make ends meet.

Thankfully, thousands of Marylanders and a multitude of businesses stepped up to join us and show their support during a difficult time. Their donations have given us the flexibility to expand our Pantry on the Go Program and bring much-needed food directly into communities where affected workers live.

Workers like Michael Westmoreland, a Coast Guard employee we met at a food distribution event for members of the American Federation of Government Employees in West Baltimore. Westmoreland had been a long-time donor to the Maryland Food Bank − including facilitating some of the #FedsFeedFamilies campaigns – when the shutdown hit.

Westmoreland at a pantry on the go
Michael Westmoreland, who would be working at the Coast Guard Yard if not for the shutdown, waits for the Pantry on the Go event to begin

“I never thought that I would have to go to the food bank. We would always donate, because a lot of families out there don’t have the luxuries we have. I’ve been through four furloughs − this the first time that I’ve needed to reach out for help.” Michael Westmoreland, furloughed Coast Guard worker.

Helping Marylanders Affected by the Shutdown

All told, MFB has scheduled Pantry on the Go events in communities statewide, including Glen Burnie, Ellicott City, Pasadena, La Plata, and Hagerstown. We’re also working with network partners in Baltimore, Ocean City, Salisbury, and other areas to supplement their orders so that they have more food to meet the increased demand they’re seeing in their communities.

The shutdown has really opened a lot of eyes as to just how fine of a line it can be between food security and facing hunger, and how vital the food assistance safety net that we’ve built can be during unexpected times of need.

In fact, a recent study found that about 40 percent of Americans are just one missed paycheck away from poverty, something that Jermaine Jones, the President of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions, talked about at one of our recent events.

furloughed worker with Congressman John Sarbanes
Rep. Paul Sarbanes (r) talks with AFGE’s Joe Flynn about how the shutdown is affecting his organization’s members

“People are going to work every day, waking up and putting their time in, then not getting an honest day’s pay for a day’s work,” he said. “A lot of them aren’t used to asking for handouts, but you know, in times like this, we all have to come together and help our brothers and sisters.”

Unexpected Consequences of the Shutdown

Lisa, a single mother and federal worker who unexpectedly found herself in need, came to our Pantry on the Go event in Glen Burnie.

“I’ve worked for the government for 30 years and never have experienced this before. I’m here today because of the need for food for my family – there’s no money in my bank account. It’s a bad feeling when you don’t know where things are going to come from.”

pantry on the go line
Volunteers distribute bags of produce and shelf-stable foods to furloughed workers

Until federal workers like Michael and Lisa find it easier to make ends meet, we’ll be here for them, just as we are − every day – for the 665,420 Marylanders who regularly face hunger.

“It’s important that we keep the food bank strong for what it does every single day, but also for responding to these situations that come along that create a kind of crisis for many, many families in the state.” Rep. John Sarbanes, Maryland’s 3rd congressional district.

We Need Your Help

Programs, campaigns, and educational outreach at the Maryland Food Bank rely on the philanthropic support of charitable individuals like you.

Much like our food distribution efforts, outreach activities at the Maryland Food Bank rely on generous donations of money and time.

We hope you’ll consider a contribution.

How Can I Help?

2 thoughts on “When the Government Shut Down, You Spoke Up

  1. I used to have Snap Benefits.
    Now I’ve just about went through my change jar which wasn’t much to begin with but it was keeping me in milk and bread for awhile. But I really miss not having the little extra I was getting.

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