How the federal shutdown is affecting Muskegon—and what you can do to help those who are struggling

For the first time in Coast Guard history, members are not receiving paychecks. Pictured here, the Michigan National Guard, the Coast Guard, and the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department conduct a training exercise at Mart Dock in Muskegon. Photo by the Michigan National Guard

From Coast Guard members who haven’t received paychecks and are struggling to afford groceries to individuals facing concerns over receiving food stamps, the federal government shutdown is causing significant stress for Muskegon residents and employees.

Here, we’ve compiled ways to help those in our community who are affected by the shutdown, which began Saturday, Dec. 22, as well as general information about how the shutdown is impacting those in Muskegon. If you know of other businesses or individuals lending a hand, or are impacted by the shutdown yourself, please let us know and we’ll add the information to this article. You can connect with us by emailing

Food & cash drive to support Coast Guard members in Muskegon

The Grand Haven chapter of the Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA)—a group that supports about 200 members of the Coast Guard working along the Lakeshore, including individuals in Muskegon—will hold a food and financial donations drive at the U.S. Coast Guard station at 1453 Beach St. in Muskegon next week.

Members of the public can drop off food and financial donations at the station from 9am to 11am on Monday, Jan. 21 through Friday, Jan. 25. The food and funding will go to Coast Guard members who, as of this past Tuesday, are not receiving paychecks from the federal government but are still mandated to go to work. This is the first time in the Coast Guard’s history that members have not received their paychecks, said Dave Karpin, a retired Coast Guard chief and president of the Grand Haven chapter of the Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA).

“This has never happened before; this is uncharted waters for us,” Karpin said.

“These young folks have nothing: they didn’t get paid on payday, and there’s no end in sight,” the retired Coast Guard chief said. “We’re looking to fill their their pantries, and we’ll keep doing this until it’s not needed anymore.”

“Anything you can think of from the grocery store” is being accepted as part of the drive, as are cash donations, Karpin said.

“They still need money to put gas in their cars and go to work,” Karpin said. “The government doesn’t pay you, but they still require you to get to work. We need to try to help them. Right now, they’re living off the little bit of savings they have, but it will deplete very fast. Many people are living payday to payday.”

If you have questions regarding the CPOA drive, please contact Karpin by calling 616-638-9677 or emailing

Photo via Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery.

Free bread from Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery

Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery will give away free loaves of bread to federal workers affected by the shutdown this Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Muskegon Farmers’ Market (242 W. Western Ave. in downtown Muskegon). Loaves will also be given away at the Sweetwater Local Foods Market, located at the Mercy Health Lakes Campus (6401 Harvey St.).

“Thank you for the myriad of services you perform, and we are sorry for the significant disruption the shutdown has caused you,” Laughing Tree Brick Oven Bakery wrote on their Facebook page.

A ‘headache’ at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company

Because of the shutdown, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau cannot issue permits that allow businesses to open, make a new beer or wine, or create labeling for a product—causing issues for breweries throughout Michigan and the country. While this has yet to create a delay for Pigeon Hill, brewery co-owner Michael Brower said the shutdown could become a headache for his business.

“We’re ahead of schedule on licensing, but if it drags out too much longer, it may become a concern,” Brower said.

With Pigeon Hill’s downtown production facility now being constructed, Brower noted the business should have received approvals to brew beer in the new venue last Friday but hasn’t because of the shutdown.

Pigeon Hill’s incoming production facility being built by Fourth Street and Shoreline Drive.

“Hopefully, when they do reopen, they can get to us relatively quickly,” Brower said. “We’re still a few months out from the point where we’d actually want to brew. But if the government’s shut down for another month and then we’re 20 days back in the queue, it starts to get more concerning.”

“It’s a minor headache for us right now, but I can’t imagine being someone who was ready to open their doors for the first time,” Brower adds.

Support from credit unions

Credit unions are offering a variety of programs to individuals affected by the shutdown, including budgeting assistance, no-interest loans, temporary suspensions of mortgage payments, and more. Programs vary depending on the credit union.

Lake Michigan Credit Union is offering no fee deferrals on LMCU consumer loans. For further information, please visit your local branch or call 800-242-9790.

Other local credit unions that have announced assistance for workers affected by the shutdown include: Public Service Credit Union, Awakon Federal Credit Union, Community Choice Credit Union, Community Financial Credit Union

“As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions serve their members and communities through good times and bad and especially when a crisis hits,” Michigan Credit Union League President and CEO Dave Adams said in a press release. “Michigan’s credit unions are joining with many nationally to step up for their members affected by this unfortunate government shutdown.”

Food Assistance Program

Residents accessing Food Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps, will receive the benefits for February in January due to the shutdown, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced this week. The state will issue February benefits beginning Saturday, Jan. 19. Clients who do not receive their benefits on that date should access them the following week, state officials said.

“That means the 1.2 million Michigan residents who receive food assistance will have benefits to feed their families in February even if the partial federal government shutdown continues,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.

Because the benefits will arrive early, individuals will not be given food stamps in the month of February. Officials have not announced what will happen to food assistance benefits should the shutdown last until March.

The department said Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits should be available for Michigan to issue in February without interruption.

Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Connect with Anna by emailing or on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

One thought on “How the federal shutdown is affecting Muskegon—and what you can do to help those who are struggling

  • January 18, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    The Really Really Free Market will take place Saturday, January 26th at the McLaughlin Community Fellowship, 1198 Spring St., from 1-4pm. While we don’t have food or gas cards, we do have clothes and housewares and anyone is welcome. If we can be a resource for folks impacted by the shutdown, we’re here and happy to greet anyone coming through our doors.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *