A Twitter chat is like a meeting on Twitter; it has a specific discussion topic and a scheduled start time. Using the hashtag #MilCents at the end of each tweet, MFAN will ask questions to a group of financial experts.
Last week, the Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition met to discuss how we can work together to support families facing hardships caused by the government shutdown. Here is an aggregated list of all members’ resources and information families should be aware of. MFAN will continue to update this blog post and MilMapSMas we become aware of more resources.
The American Red Crossis supporting Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CMGA) emergency loan disbursement efforts, providing interest-free loans to Coast Guard personnel. Coast Guard service members with dependents are eligible for a $1,500 loan, and USCG members without dependents are eligible for $1,000. Those needing assistance should visit www.cgmahq.org to learn more. Please note: the amount families are eligible to borrow may expand if the shutdown continues to extend.
To respond to the increased need, the Red Cross is also expanding its Hero Care Center staff to answer calls and process applications. The Red Cross Hero Care Center is available for all members of the military, veterans and their families 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with two options for requesting assistance, online and phone.
MFAN’s MilMapSM is a hub of information about local resources. Since the shutdown started, MFAN has added more than 300 shutdown-related resources ranging from food pantries and free meals to diaper banks and childcare. Visit MilMap, then type in your zip code to find information about resources near you. If you know of a local program, service, or event, please add that information via “Add a resource,” and our team will review and publish to the map.
Bonus: Learn about the emergency food pantries offered to Coast Guard Families via the Armed Services YMCA, the 200+ Feeding America food banks via MilMap, and USOs local/mobile food pantries.
United Way Worldwide has brought together community partners to form a coalition called “United for U.S.” in response to the government shutdown which will assist furloughed federal employees and their families. Those needing assistance are encouraged to utilize the 2-1-1service, which will connect families to resources and aid for monthly living expenses. Simply dial 2-1-1 to get connected to local support.
Free and Reduced Lunch Program: Information from coalition members at the Food Research & Action Center
Families can apply for free or reduced-price school meals at any point during the school year. This is a long-standing rule to reflect the many changes in families’ economic circumstances that can occur. This practice applies to households with furloughed employees. To apply, families should contact their school nutrition department. School districts also have the flexibility to date the eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals as of the date of the application (rather than the later date on which they approve the application) to provide more immediate support to families. If a school district has questions, they should contact their state child nutrition agency.
SNAP (A.K.A. Food Stamps)
If your family receives SNAP, please be aware that you will be receiving your February allotment earlier than normal. This is NOT a bonus payment. SNAP is currently funded through February; however, your allotment for March may be delayed.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC is still open and has funding through the end of February.
The National Military Family Association (NMFA) has signed onto the Fund the Coast Guard Act, which would provide continuous appropriations for Coast Guard personnel during the government shutdown. You can read the full story here.
MFAN will continue to update this blog post and MilMap as we become aware of more resources.