Furloughed government workers struggling to buy food, pay bills offered help

TACOMA, Wash. – Food banks across Puget Sound say they have been hearing from furloughed federal workers asking if they qualify for assistance.

One South Sound food bank has opened on Wednesday just to serve federal workers who have not been paid in weeks, all so they can feed their families and help pay the bills.

“You’ve got things going out but nothing coming in,” said one client who asked Q13 News to not show her face.

Q13 News confirmed the client from Pierce County works for a federal agency in Seattle. She said she is too embarrassed to show her face on television and also shop at a food bank. She says she has not received a paycheck from her federal job since last year and she needs help.

“You work hard and try to do what’s right,” she said, “And you’re standing in front of a food bank. It is embarrassing.”

It’s stigma like that which the folks at Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank hope to eliminate by opening their doors to federal workers who might need help.

“You’ve got to rob Peter to pay Paul,” said Making A Difference Foundation CEO Ahndrea Blue. “We just want to help you.”

Not only is the food bank opening its doors to furloughed federal workers and helping them feed their families, they’re also offering mini-grants to help keep bills from falling into the red.

“Up to $250 dollars for any bill they have that’s delinquent while on furlough,” said blue. “At least try to relieve some of the stress around their bills.”

The federal worker shopping at the food bank told Q13 News without the help she is not sure where else to turn for help.

“I keep a positive attitude because there’s nothing we can do about it,” she said. “Keep moving forward, that’s the best thing I can do to keep a positive attitude.”

Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank says it will give out free food to federal employees every Wednesday for as long as the government shutdown lasts.

Those interested in the organization’s mini-grants is asked to fill out documentation found on the agency's website.