“It’s a real challenge for us,” said Cari Thomas, a retired rear admiral and the chief executive officer of a nonprofit that is the official relief society of the Coast Guard. “It’s about $150 million each pay period to pay the active duty and civilian employees of the Coast Guard, and our nonprofit does not have $150 million, as you can imagine.”
She said she had been on the phone on Friday morning with a senior member of the Coast Guard, who is not eligible for the aid and was in tears, worrying about whether he would be able to pay his rent on Jan. 5.
Anxieties are highest for the 800,000 federal workers furloughed or forced to work without pay. But the fear is spreading far beyond the federal work force, hitting government contractors, local governments forced to cover for furloughed sanitation and maintenance workers and organizations that feed the poor, who are dealing with a possible interruption to sources of funding and provisions.
“So far we have been able to say that the sky isn’t falling yet,” said Joel Berg, chief executive of Hunger Free America, a national advocacy group for nonprofits that manage federal food programs for the poor. “But give it another week or two, or a month.”
Mr. Berg said that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, would likely be fine. But other programs — including Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, which provides aid to states — could see supply-chain interruptions if the shutdown drags on.
The Department of Agriculture’s emergency food assistance program, which sends surplus agricultural products to food banks, and the commodity supplemental food program, which provides food to low-income seniors, are both at risk, according to Catherine Drennan, the director of communications and public affairs at the Greater Boston Food Bank.