Federal Shutdown Has SF Meals on Wheels Feeling “Nervous”

The federal government has been partially shut down for nearly a week, and throughout the Bay Area there are worries about the ongoing effects of some of the service stoppages and agency closures.

One of the highest-profile consequences of the shutdown is the closure of national park land, including Alcatraz and Yosemite.

Local dog walkers and joggers are not allowed access to Fort Funston, Fort Point, Lands End and other parts of the Golden Gate Park Recreation Area.

Less visible effects of the shutdown include the nearly total closure of the Internal Revenue Service. Despite the closure, those filing for tax extensions still have to file by the Oct. 15 deadline.

The paperwork will not be processed on time and call center operations are shut down, but extensions must be postmarked by that deadline. E-filings are available online, but for more complicated matters or specific forms only available from offices, support is not accessible during the shutdown.

Vulnerable residents including seniors who depend on services such as Meals on Wheels are keeping an eye one what the shutdown could mean for them.

Most of the funding for the San Francisco Meals on Wheels office, which feeds an average of 2,200 homebound and ill seniors each day, comes from local and state sources, and private sources. However, the program also depends on some federal assistance.

Meals on Wheels spokeswoman Vivien Kim Thorp said the political gridlock could “trickle through the system” if it becomes prolonged even though the program is not directly federally funded.

“We’re carrying on as normal,” said. “We’re all nervous but OK.”

Various other government agencies are also feeling the pinch.

Some Bay Area resident may have felt the small 3.1-magnitude earthquake centered near Berkeley Sunday night.

Although the U.S. Geological Survey will continue to monitor and report such earthquake activity, the accuracy of the information could be affected by reduced staffing, according to the USGS.

On its main webpage, the USGS posted the message, “only websites necessary to protect lives and property will be maintained.”

That includes earthquake and other natural hazard programs such as erosion, landslides and volcano information.
The Amber Alert service remains in effect, although the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ website is down.

In the event of a kidnapping, the alert system will function as usual.

Other programs, such as those deemed as “essential,” continue to be staffed and funded, or at least partially, such as Social Security, with recipients still receiving their checks.

Post offices are still operating, and public safety and national security posts are still in effect with the TSA screening travelers at the airport and active duty military personnel still getting paid.

However many federal workers continue to ponder the fate of their paychecks as hundreds of thousands of people across the nation have been furloughed.

A limited pool of Social Security Administration workers has been reporting to work at the office at 7200 Bancroft Ave. in Oakland.

The last time there was a federal shutdown it lasted 21 days at the end of 1995 and into 1996.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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