A second month without pay is soon to arrive for federal employees in our area. For many of our neighbors, this means increased worry about being able to pay bills and still afford groceries for their families.
To meet the need, the food bank has launched free pop-up markets across the region each Saturday of the shutdown – based on locations with high concentrations with federal employees – to distribute produce and other grocery items to federal workers and contractors.
Since the markets began, thousands of people have visited the distributions. In the first week alone, the food bank saw over 2,400 individuals come through – nearly double the 1250 expected.
One of these guests, Jana B., mentioned that she attended the market because she is staring down a large student loan payment for the degree that helped land her current federal role.
Another guest, Tracey G., is a federal employee of 27 years and a mother of three. Food from the pop up is helping the family stretch their resources. “Once I opened the box,” she said, “I told my youngest ‘we have enough food right here to make family meals for a few days.'”
Tracey is worried about what a longer shutdown could do to her family.
“Things have only gotten a little rough for us so far,” she said, “but if this shutdown goes on much longer, we’ll be in trouble.”
As the weeks wear on, and the strain continues on family budgets, more federal workers like Jana and Tracey are likely to be in need of support. The food bank will continue to be operating weekly free grocery distributions for federal workers and contractors until the shutdown is over and workers are once again receiving paychecks. In addition to these distributions, federal employees can seek food through the food bank’s network of partners; a searchable directory can be found here.