Are you affected by the government shutdown? Here’s where to find help

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a food assistance program that aids millions of low-income families and individuals.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a food assistance program that aids millions of low-income families and individuals.

Some federal employees in Texas don’t know how many paychecks they’ll miss.

Due to the partial federal government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees across the country are either furloughed or working without pay, even though they’ll get paid for hours worked later, once the shutdown ends.

Money is tight, as families dip into — or dilute —their savings.

But many of them live paycheck to paycheck and are looking for help anywhere they can find it.

Here are some resources for struggling federal workers:

Creditors: Several banks and creditors have say they will work to help federal employees. For more information, call Bank of America’s Client Assistance Program at 844-219-0690; Chase’s special care line at 888-356-0023; Discover’s assistance line at 800-347-2683; and Wells Fargo at 800-TO-WELLS. Also, First Financial Bankshares, Inc. is offering help to customers affected by the government shutdown. Assistance ranges from loan deferment options to personal lines of credit. Those affected by the shutdown can go online to www.ffin.com/governmentshutdown for help or call First Financial’s customer care team at 855-660-5862.

Food: SNAP recipients can check benefit amounts at YourTexasBenefits.com or by calling the Lone Star Help Desk at 800-777-7EBT. Food banks are seeing an increase in new clients. North Texans who need help with food can look online for a local food bank at tafb.org or call 2-1-1 for help.

Eastside Community Assistance: A mobile pantry will visit Meadowbrook United Methodist Church on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m.-noon. All self-identified federal workers are welcome to come get food at this event. The church is located at 3900 Meadowbrook Dr. in Fort Worth. Federal workers are also welcome to come to Eastside Community Assistance, 5929 E. Lancaster Ave. , Monday through Friday (business hours 9-12) to receive food and clothing as long as the shutdown continues.

Internet/cell: AT&T and Direct TV are offering flexible payment options for federal employees. “As long as the shutdown is in effect, our customer service team will adjust late fees, provide extensions and coordinate with you on revised payment schedules,” according to a statement from AT&T.

Loan payments: Texas veterans repaying loans through the Veterans Land Board got some new help in January. The Veterans Land Board voted Jan. 24 to freeze loan payments for federal employees who are veterans and have a land or home loan through the board. “The loss of income resulting from furloughs poses a significant threat to our Veterans’ financial stability,” Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said in a statement. “It is the duty of the Veterans Land board to ensure Texas’ veterans are not affected by a situation outside of their control.” For more information, call 1-800-252-8387 or go online to TexasVeterans.com.

Recreation: The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth is waiving a month of membership dues for current members affected through January. Free access is also offered to non-members affected by the shutdown. The Dallas and Arlington YMCAs will also honor this offer. In addition, Tanger Outlets Fort Worth is offering TangerCARES free $20 gift cards to affected federal employees.

Rent: For groups that help with emergency rental assistance, contact the 2-1-1 social service helpline.

Restaurants: A few Fort Worth-area restaurants are offering deals to federal employees. The list is likely to grow. Among those offering deals now: Fort Worth Brewery & Pizza, Great Harvest Bread Co., Knife Burger, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Righteous Foods.

Pay what you can for lunch: The Taste Community Restaurant — a nonprofit group — offers “pay-what-you-can meals” six days a week, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The group is at 1200 S. Main St. in Fort Worth.

Pizza for lunch: UNO Pizzeria & Grill is offering free pizza for furloughed federal workers. On Monday-Friday, for as long as the partial shutdown continues, federal workers can get a Chicago Deep Dish or Thin Crust pizza for lunch until 3 p.m. No purchase necessary just present a valid government identification card. UNO is located in downtown Fort Worth, 300 Houston St.

Music: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is offering federal government workers a pair of free tickets for selected events through Feb. 17.

Museums: The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance is offering free tickets to federal employees during the furlough period. People are encouraged to visit the exhibition, “One Day in the Holocaust: April 14, 1943” or the special exhibition, “Let Me Be Myself: The Life Story of Anne Frank.”

Student meals: Parents who work for the government and are not getting paid because of the furlough should apply for free and reduced meals for their school-aged children during the shutdown. That’s what Sodexo, which partners with the Keller school district, encourages. Anyone approved for these meals will remain on the plan through the rest of this school year, school officials say.

Want to help? Many suggest donating to local food banks or reaching out directly to affected families by giving them food or gift cards.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.
Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.