The federal government shutdown affected many in the Kansas City metro in unexpected ways. In addition to furloughed government employees who faced financial distress, there are many in Kansas City who rely on government assistance for basic needs.
The temporary re-opening of the government is a positive step for our country, but the urgent needs of those affected are not entirely erased. It is uncertain what will transpire in the coming days in Congress, and how recipients of federal assistance and organizations that deliver those services will be impacted longer term.
To help with this situation, a number of local Jewish organizations and synagogues are working together to collect emergency funds for the current crisis, as well as what may transpire down the road. The funds will be used to assist families supported by Jewish Family Services and Jewish Vocational Service who were affected by the government shutdown. All donations will be collected by the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City.
“Due to the government shutdown, the families we serve received their last allotment of SNAP funds (food stamp benefits) in late January, so many may begin to run out of food credits by late February. Even though the shutdown has ended, SNAP participants still need to stretch funds received in January to cover both January and February food needs,” said Hilary Cohen Singer, executive director of Jewish Vocational Service.
The money raised in the Government Shutdown Emergency Assistance Fund will be used to purchase gift cards to area grocery stores to help bridge the food gap created by the shutdown for local families. To make a donation, go to jewishkansascity.org/shutdown, or mail a check to ATTN: Shutdown Emergency Assistance Fund, Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, 5801 W. 115th Street, Suite 201, Overland Park, KS 66211
“Our goal is to raise $35,000 to provide much-needed food assistance. Working with our partner agencies and synagogues, Jewish Federation will work to ensure our partner agencies – and those they serve – remain healthy and whole. Kol hakavod to JFS and JVS for having such foresight and for approaching this in such a caring and compassionate way,” said Dr. Helene Lotman, president and CEO of Jewish Federation.
One hundred percent of donations given will be used to purchase gift cards, redeemable at area grocery stores to help those dealing with food insecurity. Any unused funds will be donated to Jewish Federation’s Chesed Fund, where it will continue to help those in need. The Chesed Fund provides financial assistance for individuals and families in our community who are facing financial crisis situations, as well as those who need chronic assistance.
The fundraising effort is coordinated under the banner of Jewish Voices United, a coalition created in 2016 to coordinate social action efforts in the Jewish community. JVU will now be coordinated by JCRB|AJC and revisioned as a communal roundtable.
“This effort highlights the importance of collaboration in creating a Jewish response to issues affecting our community and our values,” said JCRB|AJC Executive Director Gavriela Geller. “We look forward to working with the community to create opportunities for regular conversations on these issues.”
The Government Shutdown Emergency Assistance Fund is in partnership with these Jewish Voices United Members: Avodah, Congregation Beth Shalom, Congregation Beth Torah, Congregation Kol Ami, Congregation Ohev Sholom, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, The Jewish Community Center—The J, Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Community Relations Bureau|AJC, Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation, Jewish Vocational Service, Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, New Reform Temple, the Rabbinical Association and TribeKC.
This fundraising effort is also in partnership with: Congregation BIAV, Kehilath Israel Synagogue, Temple Sinai, and The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah.