Food bank, friends unite to help LI shutdown families

Shut and open: With partners from PSEG-LI, Stop & Shop supermarkets and other key organizations looking on, Island Harvest President Randi Shubin Dresner announces new services Thursday for Long Island families affected by the partial federal government shutdown.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

You’d like to think that hardworking men and women – particularly those dedicated to government service, which is essentially service of the people – wouldn’t have to struggle to put food on the table. But with the partial federal government shutdown now four weeks along and no end in sight … well, here we are.

To that end, Island Harvest Food Bank on Thursday announced new programs designed specifically to assist federal workers affected by the shutdown – with the Nassau and Suffolk county departments of social services, PSEG-LI, Teachers Federal Credit Union, Stop & Shop supermarkets and other organizations uniting to provide a slate of emergency services for furloughed feds.

The idea is to “[ease] the financial burden on federal workers and contractors who have not received a paycheck since the partial government shutdown began,” according to Island Harvest, which hosted a press event at its Hauppauge headquarters Thursday morning to announce the new initiative.

Among the services available to out-of-work or unpaid federal workers are direct food assistance, help with obtaining and processing SNAP benefits, free and reduced-price school breakfast and lunch programs (for children of affected workers), temporary loan forgiveness and “other short-term emergency measures provided by Long Island nonprofit organizations and companies doing business with federal workers impacted by the prolonged shutdown,” Island Harvest said.

Randi Shubin Dresner: No shame, only victims of the partial government shutdown.

Coming together to herald the new program were John Imhof, commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Social Services; acting Commissioner Dennis Nowack of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services; executives from TFCU, PSEG-LI and Stop & Shop; and Island Harvest President Randi Shubin Dresner, who noted that Long Island’s high cost of living already “presents numerous challenges to hardworking families struggling to make ends meet.”

Throw in a month (or more) without a paycheck – as political forces battle over President Donald Trump’s border wall fixation – and the burden becomes unbearable, prompting Island Harvest and friends to take action, according to Shubin Dresner.

“Trying to keep up with mortgages, loan payments, paying for medicine and putting food on the table creates an additional burden for federal employees who are working without a paycheck,” she noted. “Collaborating with our corporate and local government partners, we’re helping to ease those burdens.”

With Island Harvest gearing up to provide supplemental food support – and its partners ready with loan-payment extensions, reduced-price school meals and other emergency assistance, including a $10,000 donation to Island Harvest made Thursday by Stop & Shop specifically to support the federal-worker effort – Shubin Dresner stressed that federal workers in need of assistance needn’t worry about being embarrassed during this national crisis.

“It’s important for those impacted by the shutdown to know that there’s no shame in asking for help,” the Island Harvest president added. “We want to reassure people facing a potential crisis that Island Harvest Food Bank, along with our community partners, can be the helping hand they need.”