Some furloughed workers seek help from food pantries
Some food banks in Anchorage say they are starting to see a new type of client: federal workers who aren't getting paid.
Chris Kukay, director of the St. Francis House Food Pantry at Catholic Social Services, said the pantry is definitely helping more people, and some of the new faces are furloughed workers. Kukay said he is hearing a similar refrain from many of them.
"'I'm out of food, I can't pay my next bill and I need help,'" Kukay said. "If people come in and they volunteer the information that they are experiencing a food shortage due to the government shutdown, I'm more than happy to help them out."
Kukay said people shouldn't be shy about accepting free food, if it means that money can be saved to pay bills or rent. He added that the pantry also has household items including diapers and pet food that can help families get by.
"There's all kinds of things that we get donated from the community that can help you bridge the gap till next month," he said.
At the Food Bank of Alaska, director Jim Baldwin said staff are getting two types of calls from people concerned about the partial government shutdown.
"One's from individuals on how they can help support fellow Alaskans," he said. "And others are calling to say, 'How do I get help?'''
Baldwin said the food bank recently sent a pallet with 5,000 pounds of food to support furloughed U.S. Coast Guard workers in Alaska. And he's heard that food pantries are starting to see an uptick as well.
"We are hearing from our partner agencies that they are seeing a few more folks coming in. They don't know for sure (if they are federal workers) because they don't ask what their situations are," he said. "But they are seeing a little increase at their pantries."
Baldwin said he expected the numbers will rise as the shutdown continues.
"Depending on how long this continues to drag out, we are probably going to see a lot more need in the community," he said.
If that happens, Baldwin said his and other agencies may have to prepare for the long haul.
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