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As shutdown continues, food resources available in Billings for furloughed families

Posted at 3:05 PM, Jan 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:50:23-04

BILLINGS- Community organizations in Billings are actively collecting and distributing emergency food boxes for families impacted by the government shutdown.

Over the weekend, donations were delivered to TSA workers stationed at the Billings airport.

The shutdown is entering week five, and that means furloughed government workers are approaching another scheduled payday with no check coming.

Some area food distribution programs said last week that the Montana Food Bank informed them that children of all furloughed or employees working without pay are eligible for free or reduced cost school meals depending on income.

The measure could mean some relief to families trying to cope as the shutdown carries on.

One group that is working to help spread the word about available resources is the Billings BackPack Meal program.

Ginny Mermel with the BackPack Meal assistance program is encouraging families to take advantage of community programs so that they may be able to save cash for other urgent needs.

Mermel said that nearly every school serves breakfast in addition to lunch and that all children can also qualify for the weekend BackPack Meal assistance or access to their school’s Teen Pantry if needed.

To do so, families can contact their school districts’ nutrition department to set up meal service. Or the USDA website here.

Billings Family Service is another resource for families experiencing trouble during the government shutdown.

Family Services is located at 1824 First Ave. N. in Billings and those with the organization are putting together food boxes and other resources for the families of federal workers affected by the government shutdown.

Stacy Brown, the executive director for Family Service, told Q2 News that the nonprofit has seen an increase in interest from families impacted by the government shutdown in recent days.

Wondering how you can help?

Cash donations and donations of shelf-stable foods such as pasta, nut butters, canned protein, and canned fruit and vegetables can be donated to Family Service. A longer list of desired food can be viewed here.