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Thu October 17, 2013
Some MU groups limping after shutdown fiasco
Now that the federal government shutdown has ended, agencies that were affected by the closure are trying to get back up and running.
University of Missouri extension’s Family and Nutrition program has had its budget cut because of the temporary lack of funding. The program provides educational material to 130,000 Missouri food stamp recipients, as well as classes on how to prepare the meals, what foods to eat and how to budget out a grocery bill.
Associate Dean and program director of MU extension Jo Britt-Rankin says the University provided money for the employees to get paid, but the materials that were supposed to be sent out to the families in need had to wait.
“We have 130,000 families who did not receive their educational materials in their food packages through the food pantries; also our program enrolls about 1,000 new people a day, so we are talking about 16,000 people that have had their educational programming delayed,” Britt-Rankin says.
She says she is hopeful the US Department of Agriculture can release the money to the state within the next few days so her organization can resume shipping the materials out to its recipients. The program has offices in all of the Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis. It serves about 350,000 Missourians a year.
Other campus programs faced setback too, but not as severe. Lt. Col. Rob Boone Chairman of the Mizzou Army ROTC says that his unit faced some hardships because of the lack of funding.
Two employees were furloughed for a week before being permitted to come back to work. Also, the unit had to train at local parks instead of traveling to their regular training grounds because of a lack of vehicles provided by the government. And, cadets did not receive their monthly stipends. But Boone says the impact of the shutdown wasn’t too detrimental to the unit.
“The overall impact was minimal, we were able to adjust, there was some worry, but we were able to move forward and complete our mission,” he says.
Boone says that despite the lack of funds to the employees and cadets, details in the federal bill to re-open the government guaranteed that the workers and cadets will receive back pay.
The office also sent letters to cadets’ apartment complexes and creditors granting them extended time to pay their bills due to the lack of money.