Government Shutdown Assistance

Below is a list of businesses who are running specials, discounts or giving away free goods and services for those affected by or furloughed due to the government shutdown in the Chicagoland area:


Smack Dab Chicago (6730 N. Clark St., Chicago) is offering free meals to employees affected by the shutdown and their children. During the week, employees can show their government ID and receive breakfast or lunch. On the weekends, the offercan be used on dinner. Meals include an entree, pastry and beverage. Vegan and vegetarian options are available.

Cellar Door Provisions (3025 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago) is offering breakfast or lunch to anyone with government ID “while supplies last”.

Doc’s Smokehouse (19081 Old Lagrange Road #1051420, Mokena; 1420 Calumet Ave., Dyer, IN; 754 Vel R. Phillips Ave., Milwaukee, WI) will give a free pulled pork sandwich, chips and a non-alcoholic drink to any government employee with a valid ID at all three of their locations.

Manzo’s Burger (2353 W. 111th St., Chicago) is giving 50 percent off the entire bill of anyone who shows their valid federal ID.

Horse Thief Hollow Craft Brewery (10426 S. Western Ave., Chicago) is giving free lunch up to $15 (alcohol is not included) from 2 to 4 p.m. until Friday, Jan. 18 to government employees with a valid ID.

Porkchop BBQ (1017 S. Delano Court, Chicago; 1516 E. Harper Court) will take 50 percent off the entire bill of government workers who show a valid ID and their families.

Cà Phê Đá (1800 ½ S. Carpenter St., Chicago) is serving a free Vietnamese “Worker’s Meal” with protein, vegetables and rice to single diners who show a valid government ID from 10 a.m. to close.

Protein Bar (11 Chicago locations; 896 N. Meacham Road, Schaumburg; 2040 York Road, Oak Brook) is giving 50 percent off an entree to anyone with a valid government ID Tuesday through Sunday.

Indiana Restaurants:

Condado Tacos
The deal: 
Condado will be serving up free tacos to furloughed government employees. No purchase is necessary, but you will have to show your government ID. The offer is valid at all 10 Condado locations. 
When: January 16-23
Where: Indianapolis

The Libertine
The deal: Local restauranteur Neal Brown is offering up deals at three of his restaurants (including Pizzology and Ukiyo below). Federal workers with a valid ID get a meal on the house. 
When: Until the shutdown ends
Where: Indianapolis

The deal: Same as the details found under the Libertine above. 
When: Until the shutdown ends
Where: Carmel

The deal: Same as the details under The Libertine above. 
When: Until the shutdown ends. 
Where: Indianapolis

Food Banks

Care for Real (5339 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago) is offering staple food items like meat, dairy and canned fruits and vegetables to furloughed employees who show their federal ID. They may pick up the staples once a month and fresh produce and bakery items up to four times a week. Food is distributed Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lakeview Pantry (3945 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago) will give two weeks’ worth of groceries for free to government employees who show a valid ID during the shutdown. Food distribution is from noon to 7 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m.

Greater Chicago Food


The Anti-Cruelty Society (510 N. LaSalle St., Chicago) will give pet supplies to employees furloughed by the government shutdown. Pick-up hours are between noon and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


The Adler Planetarium (1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago) is giving two free general admission passes to government employees. They can upgrade to an All Access Pass, which includes access to sky shows, for a discounted price of $17.95 for adults and $16.95 for children.

The Auditorium Theatre (50 Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago) at Roosevelt University is offering four tickets to “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah” Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. and “National Geographic Live — Pink Boots and a Machete” on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. to government employees with a valid ID.

Kings Dining & Entertainment (1500 N. Clybourn Ave. Suite C102, Chicago; 5505 Park Place, Rosemont) is giving two free games and shoes Monday through Thursday from open to 6 p.m. to employees who show a valid ID. Government employees must mention the promotion, which cannot be combined with other offers or on holidays and is “first come, first serve.”

The Second City (1616 N. Wells St., Chicago) is offering federal employees with valid ID free tickets to a select number of their shows. They are also offering a free meal (up to a $15 value) and a non-alcoholic beverage to furloughed employees at their full-service restaurant and bar, 1959 Kitchen & Bar. Finally, furloughed employees can participate in a free improvisation drop-in class on Fridays at 5:30 p.m. or Sundays at 7 p.m. Pre-registration is required. More information is available here.


Airbnb’s new program, “A Night on Us“, will give up to $110 extra to any federal worker who hosts an Airbnb Experience or has guests for three nights in their home between Dec. 18, 2018 and March 18. the application for “A Night on Us” is here.00:20

In order to help, many companies are extending offers big and small to help furloughed workers while the government leaves them hanging. Some major corporations, for example, are offering extended time for federal workers to pay their bills. Cellphone companies like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, for example, have all said they will waive late fees for workers impacted by the shutdown, and will work with them on payment plans. Banks like Chase, Citi, American Express, and Capital One are giving similar offers too.

Heart Certified Auto Care, an auto repair shop with three locations in the Chicagoland area is covering government workers during the shutdown by offering free oil changes.
Also, for all auto service beyond oil changes, HEART is offering a payment extension, where Federal employees don’t have to pay for the service until the government reopens.

Bank Assistance Programs

Here are some of the announced assistance programs. Other creditors including credit card companies, lenders and loan servicers also have assistance options available. It is better to request help before missing payments.

Ally FinancialThe company announced in a Jan. 18 news release that it had expanded its assistance program to “provide aid and resources for customers affected by the partial U.S. government shutdown.” Based on individual needs, expanded benefits may include: refunds of transaction fees or of non-sufficient funds fees, CD early withdrawal penalty waivers, expedited check fee waivers, wire fee waivers, late charge waivers and payment extensions. Contact customer care at 877-247-2559, through chat or email to discuss options.

Bank of America: The bank’s Client Assistance Program is offering personalized financial assistance and can be reached at 844-219-0690.

Better Mortgage: The digital mortgage lender announced in a news release that it has launched a mortgage refinance program called Shutdown Relief Emergency Refi that “allows federal employees to tap into their home equity for living expenses and delays loan payments for impacted federal government employees for up to 30 days after the end of the furlough.” Learn more at

ChaseThe bank announced its efforts to help its customers who are U.S. government employees on Dec. 22 and is encouraging customers to call a special care line at 888-356-0023 to discuss available hardship programs. The help also is available for customers who do business with a federal agency that is also affected, Chase said in a statement.

Congressional Federal Credit UnionFurloughed employees and those working without pay can apply for the “Relief Line of Credit” with an interest-free rate over 60 days.

DiscoverImpacted federal workers who are Discover cardmembers or have a loan with Discover Bank may be eligible for assistance such as skipping a payment and having late fees and interest charges reversed if they miss a payment because of the shutdown. To request assistance, call 800-347-2683.

FedChoiceThe Federal Credit Union has several options listed in its Furlough Center at

Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Eligible government employees impacted by the temporary government shutdown may be eligible for a payment deferral on their Marcus loan and savings customers may be eligible to have early withdrawal penalties waived. For request assistance and to discuss options, call 844-627-2876.

Navy Federal Credit UnionImpacted union members who have direct deposit of their government pay may be eligible for interest-free loans. Government contractors may be eligible if their direct deposit is received directly from the federal government and will be impacted by a government shutdown. 

U.S. Bank: The bank created a new, low-rate quick loan for federal employees affected by the shutdown. It is available to customers with any U.S. Bank product, including mortgage, auto loans or U.S. Bank credit cards, the company announced. The designated federal government shutdown line is 877-760-6046.

U.S. Employees Credit UnionImpacted union members who have direct deposit of their government pay may be eligible for interest-free loans. According to its website, the Government Shutdown Loan is to be “repaid in 60 days or when the government processes back pay, whichever is sooner.”

Wells Fargo: The bank says it “will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown.” Customers should call 1-800-TO-WELLS, or the number on their credit card, debit card or statement for assistance, or visit any Wells Fargo branch. Mortgage, loan, and credit customers may qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances, the company posted on its website.

Unemployment benefitsAccording to a U.S. Office of Personnel Management fact sheet, federal employees may be eligible for “Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees,” which is administered by state unemployment insurance agencies. The fact sheet notes “the law of the state in which an individual’s official duty station in Federal civilian service is located will be the state law under which an individual’s eligibility for benefits is determined.”