Partial Government Shutdown Hits Home

Partial Government Shutdown Hits Home

Written by Oscar Scholin, Journalist

As of January 19, 2019, the US government shutdown is in its 29th day. The national effects of the shutdown, which include how the federal government compels all essential government employees to work without pay, are ubiquitous in today’s news. The potential issues of Britain’s exit from the EU and an escalation of US-China trade tensions, combined with the prolonged government shutdown, pose major problems for the global economy. New York Federal Reserve President John Williams remarked, “the shutdown could cut US economic growth by 1%” — threatening to undo any GDP growth accrued during the first quarter.

 

While most people may be familiar with the national impacts of the government shutdown, the local impacts of the shutdown are equally as important. In Monterey County, the shutdown will affect all government funded operations/businesses. For example, the National Marine Sanctuary will remain closed to the public and to further research. However, two emergency personnel will be stationed in case of an environmental threat, such as a sewage spill. Fortunately, the shutdown will affect no one at the Monterey Coast Guard station. The Pinnacles, as a national park, will face closure until the government reopens. However, similar to the National Marine Sanctuary, emergency personnel will remain on the park. The shutdown will also impact the local Monterey Weather Station; however, the local meteorologist will continue working.

 

The government shutdown has even impacted USDA inspection/service centers, which means that food undergoes fewer inspections before arriving at supermarkets. One of the most prominent issues with the government shutdown is that of the distribution of food stamps. In Monterey County, 40,000 people rely on CalFresh (food stamps) benefits. A mother of a 3-year-old child with health issues, Natalie Castillo observes, “Starting this month on the fifth, we noticed there was about $120 less of food stamps with no change of income.” This decrease in benefits negatively impacts large percentages of the county’s population — Castillo and her husband had saved enough money to purchase a home, but the reduction in benefits impelled them to spend more money on food. “It’s [CalFresh] a good benefit for us,” remarks Salinas resident Cassondra Ortiz, “but if it stops and gets taken away then I can’t feed my kids.” This decrease in CalFresh benefits will likely drive more starving people to the Monterey County Food Bank, which already serves 20% of the county’s population and 25% of the county’s children. However, Melissa Kendrick — the director of the Monterey County Food Bank — announced that the food bank will remain open and will aid anyone in need.

 

To combat the problem of disruption of food benefits, Sonny Perdue — the US Secretary of Agriculture — declared, “we want to assure states, and SNAP [food benefits at a national level] residents, that the benefits for February will be provided.” However, that plan has yet to take effect and many Monterey County residents depend on their benefits to survive.

In times of crisis and chaos such as these, you can help when our government will not. If you can donate a can of soup, or have money to spare, please consider giving to the Monterey County Food Bank at www.foodbankformontereycounty.org/donate/ or in person at 353 W Rossi St. Salinas, CA 93907. Even small donations will help to sustain the food bank as it shoulders the enormous burden of serving those in need in Monterey County.