After the Shutdown: Good News and Bad News

It was the best of times and the worst of times…

...as the legendary Tale of Two Cities classic begins. With us at ACFB, a similar framing concept might be “the good news and the bad news” as we – kind of – breathe a sigh of relief that our dysfunctional federal leaders re-funded our federal government, lifted the debt ceiling, and punted yet again for a few months to work on resolving our nation’s polarized impasse on governing.  

The good news:  This time around, while there may be some rippling impact on federally funded food sources getting to our food banks on time, our supplies should minimize any delays that might cause stress to people in need.

The bad news:  On  November 1,  across-the-board cuts to all SNAP (food stamp ) recipients nationwide go into effect.  About 1.9 million Georgians - with nearly a million of those being in our ACFB service area - will have less money to feed their families as a result of these .

More bad news:  A cover story in Friday’s AJC spotlights our Georgia Department of Human Services’ (DHS) ongoing struggles in serving SNAP-eligible clients going through the basic processes of signing up for food stamps and renewing them.  For 41% of calls received by the DHS SNAP-related call centers to go unanswered in the last year, and for severely food-insecure people to regularly be put on hold for up to 3 hours is very disappointing and demoralizing.     

More good news: We – ACFB – have a good and growing relationship with Georgia DHS staff members who are trying their best to manage those processes.  We are active and co-leading  a statewide  Food Stamp Workgroup comprised of DHS staff and front-line nonprofits and caseworkers.   We also have a Benefit Outreach team here at ACFB who can – for at least targeted numbers of people in need – help navigate individuals through the system’s current roadblocks.

More “good” news:  Also in Friday’s AJC, the Standard & Poor’s 500 hit an all-time high yesterday, as “investors put the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis behind it and focused on corporate earnings.”

More bad news:  We American’s have not yet come to terms with the reality of how income/wealth is truly distributed these days. Check out this 6 minute video for a sobering set of graphics.

Final good news:  YOU took the time to read this blog and are part of the amazing, growing “Community of Concern” in our ACFB service area.  

When I wrote these reflections, I looked out my window as the Atlanta Apartment Association was holding their annual Food-A-Thon parade for us… streaming into our facility with truck after truck filled with food and funds being donated from apartment-collected food drives.  (We believe this to be the largest single-day food drive event in America.)  And while I looked on, I heard on the radio our Public Broadcasting station WABE including ACFB for the day in their annual fundraising drive – contributing a pound of food per pledge for a hoped for goal of 2,000 PBS pledges received today.

We WILL make a difference. MANY THANKS for hanging with us for the long haul!

Rob Johnson,
VP, Community Services

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