As the partial government shutdown in the United States drags on, about 800,000 government employees are no longer receiving paychecks.
Fourteen percent of the government employees impacted by the shutdown make less than $50,000 a year, according to The Washington Post. On top of that, about 40% of Americans have less than $400 in savings, according to NPR. With numbers like those, missing a paycheck is simply not feasible for many government workers and, as a result, the shutdown is taking a debilitating toll on their finances.
A pop-up kitchen from #ChefsForFeds served 4,400 free meals to federal employees on Friday, which was double the number they had expected to serve, according to ABC News. Other government workers say they have cleared their bank accounts to pay their rent, utilities, and mortgages this month, and are unsure what they will do if they don’t receive a paycheck soon.
If you want to pitch in, it's important to keep in mind two things: first, cash is always better than donations. While you might be tempted to send clothing, food, bottled water, and other things, managing and distributing these supplies can be a logistical nightmare. You can make an exception once you see trusted organizations on the ground are requesting specific supplies, because that's how you know they have taken stock of the needs of the workers they’re supporting.
Second, always make sure that the organizations you're supporting are credible. We can help with that! Here is a list of the places helping workers during this government shutdown.
GoFundMe Government Shutdown Direct Relief Fund: GoFundMe teamed up with Deepak Chopra to provide assistance to government workers affected by the shutdown. Donations to the GoFundMe will be distributed to various nonprofits aimed at providing relief to government employees, including José Andrés and #ChefsForFeds and the National Diaper Bank Network.
Food banks: You can help out DC-area food banks by donating to Capital Area Food Bank’s Hunger Lifeline and So Others Might Eat. Masbia is aiding those in New York City and World Central Kitchen is helping to provide meals to federal employees nationwide. You can also check your local papers to see which food banks are providing assistance to government workers.
Parent resources: If you aren’t a parent, it can be easy to forget that diapers are expensive. And, because there are no federal assistance programs for diapers, some parents are having to turn to diaper banks — which run on donations — in order to diaper their kids. Help families get diapers by donating to the National Diaper Bank Network and WestSide Baby.
Call your representatives: You can also get in touch with your senator and/or representative to let them know you’re paying attention to the ongoing shutdown, and that you would like them to work towards an end to it ASAP. Find your representative contact information here and your senator’s information here.