ALPENA - Due to government shutdown, 11 counties in Northeast Michigan will be without access to the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency food program. The staff have been furloughed, and October monthly food distributions from the commodity supplemental food program will be temporarily suspended pending a resolution. All distribution in Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle counties will be temporarily suspended.
"Because of the shutdown, there are no anticipated funds for us to operate," NEMCSA Client Services Director Robert Cain said. "Other human services agencies have their staff on layoff as well."
With no way to predict when or if a resolution will be met, the agency has been forced to furlough five full-time employees and will have no means to distribute food to the counties in need of assistance.
"It's very hard to predict when a resolution will happen," Cain said. "According to the (United States Department of Agriculture) all food shipments will continue to come to our warehouse, we just have no staff to distribute them. They will remain in storage until operations resume."
According to Cain, 4,600 people will be affected by this shutdown.
"It's terrible when folks aren't receiving the foods they rely on once a month," Cain said. "Now they won't have them, and now I have five people who are out of work until the shutdown is over."
Those people affected by the sudden stop in the food program may seek out food banks, the Salvation Army, churches and other support agencies that may be able to help them with their needs.
"We don't anticipate (the government) will not start up again, it's just a timing issue while they are shutdown," Cain said. "If there is a change, our website will be updated immediately with information. Nobody has a crystal ball to know when they will figure it out, but we hope they will at least pass a continuing resolution so we can continue to distribute food to those who need it."
For more information or to check for program updates, visit www.nemcsa.org and click on the commodity supplemental food program.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.