Valley charities stretched by government shutdown

Posted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- At a time when St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance typically tries to stockpile ahead of the holidays, the non-profit has found itself giving extra this month thanks to the 16-day government shutdown. 

“We have seen a lot of folks who live paycheck to paycheck,” said Jerry Brown of St. Mary’s. “As soon as that first paycheck was not available, they needed help in emergency food.”

Brown estimates upwards of 10,000 workers were affected across the state of Arizona. St. Mary’s sent multiple shipments of food to the Grand Canyon to help furloughed workers over the last couple of weeks.

“October is normally the time when we’re squirelling away, and all of a sudden we’re distributing a lot of food," said Brown.

Even though workers have now returned to work, Brown says the Food Bank is still filling the gap while paychecks return.

The shelves appear more bare than they normally would this time of year. Shelves at the Salvation Army tell a similar story. That organization is helping out with not only emergency food but utilities assistance and rental assistance. The funds for rental assistance are now completely gone, for the time being.

“The last grant that we received was $30,000, and we gave that away in one week,” said Major John Brackenbury of the Salvation Army.

Between those already in need, combined with the deal delay on Capitol Hill, resources are stretched heading into charities’ busiest season to give.

“While Washington D.C. is a ways away, and we don’t think, sometimes, of how it affects us locally, it does,” said Major Brackenbury. “It has affected all of us, and we’re just going to continue to do what we can to meet the needs of people.”