Do you need food assistance? If you have been affected by the government shutdown, please reach out to us for help. Online: Visit our Get Help tool online to find food pantries in your area, and call the phone numbers provided for their hours of operation and food distribution schedules. To visit a food pantry, all you need is an ID like a driver’s license- no other documentation is needed. Phone: Call our main number at 706-736-1199 to receive a list of food pantries near you, their contact information and their current food distribution schedules. If you are unable to make contact with a food pantry, continue to reach out to us by phone and we will work with you until we connect you with the food resources that you need. What can you do to help? Give: Donations are welcome, both monetary and food items. Volunteer: You can also volunteer with us to sort donations, stock shelves and help ensure food is ready to be distributed out into the community. ***UPDATE 2/15/2019*** On February 15, President Trump signed a spending bill that averted another government shutdown. Community members who receive SNAP in Georgia will receive 50% of March SNAP benefits on March 2 and the other half on their regular staggered issuance dates of the 5th through the 23rd of March. Golden Harvest will continue to monitor the political situation, and is here to support any families still struggling from the after-effects of the partial government shutdown and delayed SNAP benefit distribution. ***UPDATE 1/30/2019*** As of January 25, Congress reached an agreement to re-open the government for a span of 3 weeks. The agreement allowed federal workers to receive backpay for their time on furlough and funded government operations until February 15. Although the government has been re-opened, it will likely take time for furloughed employees to receive their backpay. Many government workers and their families will still be experiencing fallout from the extended shutdown as they work to get back on their feet. If you or anyone you know needs extra assistance, please reach out to us! Community members who receive SNAP benefits may also be affected. States distributed February benefits early to avoid the suspension of SNAP benefits during the shutdown, so there will be a longer than normal gap between when participants received February benefits and when they’ll receive March benefits – about 40-50 days. This may mean an increased need in our community toward the end of February. Golden Harvest will continue to closely monitor the situation as negotiations unfold in Congress over the coming weeks, and is committed to being well prepared for any situation that may arise, including an increase in need. The Rundown Before the end of the last Congress, we saw the start of a weeks-long government shutdown. Here’s a quick rundown of what a shutdown is and who it is affecting in our area. What is the shutdown? The government shutdown happens when Congress cannot come to an agreement on the next fiscal year’s budget. Currently, there is a disagreement over funding, resulting in the shutdown. How long has it lasted? The shutdown will end when Congress is able to come to an agreement on which areas should be funded. It started on December 21, 2018. Who does this affect? The shutdown affects all non-essential federal government employees. This means people like TSA agents, park rangers, Congressional staff, and staff for whole departments like USDA. Approximately 800,000 federal workers and federal contractors have been furloughed without pay for an indefinite period, and it is expected that paychecks for federal workers and contractors will not arrive as scheduled. Many of these furloughed employees have been working without pay. Because the shutdown has lasted over four weeks, there’s a lot of uncertainty about how these individuals will be able to pay rent or put food on the table. The shutdown could also affect Federal Assistance program such as SNAP, WIC and Child Nutrition Programs. These programs are funded by the federal government through the end of February, but as of now they are not funded beyond that time. What will Golden Harvest do and how is it affected? Golden Harvest has received calls and visits from local furloughed employees who need resources to assist them during the government shutdown, and has been working to connect them with local food pantries and other food resources to get help for their families. Since SNAP has federal funding secured through February, there will not be an immediate impact on our SNAP outreach. However, we are closely monitoring the needs of families in our area who rely on SNAP for help and are ready to help if this program is impacted by the prolonged shutdown. Golden Harvest will not be cutting any services and will always find a way to continue to support our community partners in Georgia and South Carolina.