An annual Philadelphia tradition on Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors the civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner with a ceremony at the Liberty Bell.
But this year, with the Liberty Bell Pavilion closed amid the federal government shutdown, the ceremony moved to 17th and Market streets instead. The shutdown, which changed the ceremony, has also deeply affected a group King advocated for — people experiencing poverty.
The shutdown has left Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits recipients unsure if they’ll have enough aid to last through February. More than half of Pennsylvania’s 2 million SNAP recipients live in Philadelphia, and nearly half of all SNAP recipients are children, according to Feeding America.
As the longest shutdown in history continues, groups across the country have stepped up to provide help to the 800,000 furloughed government workers. Here in Philadelphia, there are about 45,000 federal workers, according to Philabundance, a hunger relief organization. Philabundance will hold an emergency food distribution market for furloughed workers every Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m. at Front and Tasker streets.
Starting on Monday, Temple’s Kornberg School of Dentistry will offer free dental care for federal workers. For students who are food insecure, Cherry Pantry provides food every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
We’re proud to see prominent institutions like Temple help those affected by the shutdown, and we hope students who are in the position to donate their resources, time and money do so to help the tens of thousands of people in our city whose food and housing security are being affected by the shutdown.