As the partial federal shutdown stretches into its second month, people who work with food insecurity in Charlotte are stepping up to help, including food banks and restaurants.
At Loaves & Fishes, which supplies food through a network of 34 food pantries across Mecklenburg County, workers from the Transportation Safety Administration at Charlotte Douglas International Airport have been showing up to get groceries, says Sue Bruce, the Loaves & Fishes communication manager.
“We’re definitely seeing an impact,” Bruce said Tuesday. “We’re seeing it, we’re feeling it.”
She has talked to at least five TSA workers in the last few days, but none were willing to talk on the record to the media, she said. At least one person who works for the TSA said they were getting a week’s worth of groceries, Bruce said, and told her they were taking food back to work to share with co-workers.
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A partial government shutdown affects people in several ways: Federal government workers can be furloughed, meaning they stay home without pay. Others in critical jobs, such as TSA workers, may be required to work without pay. And people who receive government benefits, such as SNAP or food stamps, may not get benefits.
Organizations like Loaves & Fishes and Crisis Assistance Ministry are bracing for a surge in demand at food banks and pantries in the next few weeks, they said. While the Department of Social Services was able to provide February’s benefits to SNAP or food stamp recipients before the money ran out, getting benefits so early means families may run out early as well, says Liana Humphreys, communications officer for Crisis Assistance.
If you need help or want to provide help, here’s a list of what’s happening:
▪ Loaves & Fishes will hold its annual Scouting for Food drive on Feb. 1, in which people put out sacks of canned goods and other nonperishables to be picked up by Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. The drive usually brings in 250,000 pounds, which is used to restock the pantries.
▪ Crisis Assistance Ministry could use cash donations to help federal workers with rent and utility bills. Because they are technically employed, even though they are missing paychecks, furloughed workers may not fit the criteria for some help. But if Crisis Assistance receives money, it has more flexibility to help people who may only need temporary help., says Humphreys.
“These aren’t people who are typically needing assistance,” Humphreys said. “Generally, they have stable jobs. But if people are struggling, resources are available.”
▪ Second Harvest of Metrolina has food available through pantries and meal sites in 19 counties in North Carolina. Those pantries also are providing help for federal employees who need food for their families. To find locations, go to www.secondharvestmetrolina.org/government-shut-down.
▪ Starting Saturday, Second Harvest will distribute special food packages 2-4 p.m. every Saturday until the shutdown/furlough ends. Go to the Second Harvest offices, 500-B Spratt St., with a federal work-issued ID or an EBT card.
Federal workers with work-issued IDs also can get food from some local businesses, including these:
▪ A free takeout daily meal from the restaurant Heirloom, starting Jan. 29 and continuing until the shutdown ends. Call the restaurant by 5 p.m. (704-595-7710) and you can go by and pick it up after 5 p.m. at 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.
▪ Free vegan meals from Veltree, The Vegan Experience, at 7945 N. Tryon St., No. 110. Call 980-355-0075.
▪ A free doughnut at Your Mom’s Donuts locations, including Park Road Shopping Center.
▪ A free loaf of bread at Duke’s Artisan Bread at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, 1801 Yorkmont Road, on Fridays and Saturdays.
▪ Free pizza at both Pure Pizza locations, at 7th Street Market and at 1911 Central Ave.