As of January 15, the partial government shutdown has been the longest in US history, with no end in sight, due to a war in Washington over funding for a Mexican border wall. All non-essential government services have ceased. As the entire nation is affected largely, we see local consequences.
Valley Forge is a unit of the National Parks System and deemed a non-essential service, therefore remaining fully unstaffed, other than a temporary visitor center. Federal employees will not patrol the park, provide tours or information, or collect trash. There is no maintenance of roads or walkways, which could be dangerous with snow and ice. Restrooms will not operate or be provided, except for those at the visitor center, which only remain open for a limited amount of time per day. The National Park Service has warned, “park visitors should use extreme caution if choosing to enter,” due to limited emergency and rescue services.
SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is our federal form of food stamps distributed to 1,800,000 Pennsylvanians. SNAP benefits are given on EBT cards, working like debit cards for food. Due to the partial shutdown, Pennsylvania will be issuing food benefits early on or before January 20. City officials stated on January 16, “Benefits you would normally get in February will instead be issued on January 18. This is not a bonus! You won’t get more SNAP until March at the earliest.” This is essentially two months worth of EBT credit to be spent within two months, but applied earlier than usual. The state has cautioned recipients to budget with this in mind. The Department of Health and Social Services has said, “our hope is to be back on the regular schedule beginning in March.” Hopefully, for our nation’s sake, their predictions are correct.