SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Food Bank distributed seven tons of food and 6,000 diapers to hundreds of U.S. Coast Guard families affected by the government shutdown.
On Tuesday, members of the Coast Guard missed their first paycheck due to the partial government shutdown. The Coast Guard, while technically a military branch, is funded through the Department of Homeland Security which is affected by the shutdown.
Nationally, 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard personnel and 8,000 civilian employees are not receiving paychecks. Civilian employees have been unpaid since December 21.
According to retired Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, CEO of Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, interviewed Tuesday on NPR’s Morning Edition, many enlisted Coast Guard personnel live below the poverty line.
Those most vulnerable are junior enlisted Coast Guard personnel with young families, many of whom lack savings. Despite being unpaid, uniformed Coast Guard personnel deemed essential are continuing to work.
The Food Bank distributed canned meats, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned soup, cereal, jars of peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, pasta, and fresh produce including bags of apples, pears, oranges, potatoes and watermelons to military families in National City.
The Food Bank also distributed 6,000 diapers to Coast Guard members with babies. A month’s supply of diapers for one child can cost more than $80, according to San Diego Food Bank spokesman Chris Carter.
The San Diego Food Bank provides monthly food assistance to 39,000 low-income, active-duty military personnel and their dependents.
To qualify for means-tested, government-provided food programs, a military family of four cannot have an annual household income of more than $37,650. Many low-income military families struggle with the region’s high cost of living and a spousal unemployment rate of 30 percent, according to Carter.
The Food Bank currently hosts 200 direct food distributions throughout San Diego County every month and supplies food to more than 500 county nonprofits with feeding programs.
Furloughed federal workers are encouraged to contact the San Diego Food Bank for emergency food distribution sites in their local area by going online or calling 2-1-1.