AUSTIN, Texas — As the government shutdown stretches beyond 25 days, federal workers are feeling the pain as they still try to pay their bills, and feed their families.
"This is unprecedented territory, with this being the longest shutdown in American history,” said Mark Jackson with the Central Texas Food Bank.
That’s why the Central Texas Food Bank is offering a first-ever emergency food distribution for federal workers.
"We felt like we needed to do something,” said Jackson.
According to Jackson, there are about 25,000 federal workers in their service area.
"The idea is that many folks in our community do live paycheck to paycheck, we think that there will be a lot of folks that need some support,” said Jackson.
Workers can get a box of food and a hygiene kit at the food bank on Wednesday.
"The idea is that we're going to get food into the hands of folks that need it right now, but we'll also have resources on hand so we can set them up with long-term assistance,” said Jackson.
The food box will include peanut butter, tuna, whole kernel golden corn, sweet peas, baked beans, sliced pears, spaghetti, beef ravioli, cheesy tuna and grape jelly. The hygiene box will include baby wipes, 3-in-1 shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, shaving gel and razors.
It’s a need people like Diana Woods at the Buda United Methodist Church Food Pantry are seeing.
"I did get several new families that had not ever been to a food bank before, or a food pantry,” said Woods.
Woods said they typically serve about 1,000 people a month, but last week, after furloughed government workers didn't get a paycheck, they got more calls.
"I’m really expecting things if it drags on to get a little bit worse because of the first-of-the-month mortgages and rent and care payments and all kinds of expense are going to be due,” said Woods.
It's something she knows firsthand. As a former government worker, Woods was a single mom when she was furloughed.
"I think the first thing that really gets you in the stomach is you don't know how long it’s going to go on,” said Woods.
Both Woods and Jackson hope it doesn’t continue too much longer.
"We don't know what to expect in terms of this increase and we're definitely going to need more resources if we're going to feed everybody that shows up at our door,” said Jackson.
The resource fair will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. at 6500 Metropolis Drive in Austin.
You can donate or sign up to volunteer at the Central Texas Food Bank here.
They aren’t the only agencies seeing the effects. According to United Way for Greater Austin, about 30 furloughed workers have called them with requests of basic needs. On Tuesday they said those calls increased.
A Central Health representative said they haven’t seen an increase in calls but do want workers to know:
- “Central Health-funded CommUnityCare Health Centers will see anyone regardless of their ability to pay for coverage. So whether a person is uninsured, underinsured or their coverage has lapsed, they can always get health care in Travis County.”
- "There are 24 Central Health-funded CommUnityCare Health Centers providing health care services. Call 512-978-9015 to find the location nearest you.”
The Central Texas Food Bank said it served a total of 830 households, comprising of 2,729 individuals at its food distribution and resource fair on Wednesday, Jan. 16.