JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Volunteers with Mayport USO host a "no dough dinner" twice a month for military families in need of a hand up in between paychecks. every other Monday before payday, officials say they help nearly 300 people.
That number could soon rise, if mandatory federal budget cuts go through. The reductions could lead to employee pay slashed by 20 percent due to 22 weeks of one-day-a-week furloughs.
"Our main goal is to help them out through paydays because military families go through a lot already, so we try to ease it with the little bit that we can," said Mayport USO Center Director Pam Coates.
Soldiers and their families who are concerned over the cuts are already planning on starting a new budget in order to stay afloat during the cuts.
"In talking with some of the wives from our command today, they're planning on coming out to this dinner so they can start budgeting in case this does happen," said Deb Mullinax.
For many families, including Ashley Haley's, the cuts would be devastating. Haley's 4-year-old son, who has autism needs expensive behavioral therapy sessions that she fears could be dropped from her insurance if lawmakers can't find a solution.
"No other insurance other than the military covers the therapies like Tri-care so, if anything like that got cut, it would affect him with autism. You know, they regress very easily and stuff like that, so my concern would be that it would affect him in the long run," said Haley.
Regardless of what happens come the March 1st deadline, "No Dough" organizers say they will continue to cook for military families in need.
"We're here to help our military families," said Coates.