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CBS New York: Pop-Up Food Pantries Helping Furloughed Government Employees

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It has been more than a month since the federal government shutdown started.

Some workers in the Tri-State Area are feeling the impact.

The Food Bank For New York City hosted a pop-up food pantry Tuesday geared specifically at furloughed employees.

It took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Many attendees receiving help told CBSN New York’s John Dias that they’ve never previously been in such a position and they’ve never needed assistance before. Some told Dias they feel bad for taking food and resources from people less fortunate than they are.

“This is what we do. We serve vulnerable people. We serve people who are struggling with hunger. But we realize that federal workers have now missed two paychecks. The average American can not afford to miss hardly one paycheck,” said Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City.

Purvis said Barclays Center made for a good location for the operation because it is easy to find and will make people who’ve never received this type of help before feel comfortable.

In addition to offering food, the pop up also provided information about other types of help furloughed workers might be eligible for, including SNAP and how to get their taxes done for free.

Furloughed workers could receive dry goods, meat, milk, fresh fruit, produce, and hygiene items for women and children.

“We’re hearing from soup kitchens and food pantries on all five boroughs that they’re seeing more people,” Purvis said. “We’re just seeing it on every single borough, all kinds of people.”

Purvis said some of the attendees Tuesday were TSA workers who arrived in uniform after leaving work for the day.

“If you think about it, a government job has always been a wonderful achievement and it’s supposed to equal great security,’ Purvis said. “They are now experiencing food insecurity. These two communities were never supposed to meet. Some of these people are the ones who have served our clients. They have been in partnership with the Food Bank. And now they’re eligible for the same services they provided to the needy.”

Purvis urges people who want to get involved and help remedy the situation to get vocal with elected officials and let them know how you feel.

“Do not just argue with people on social media. Pick up the phone and make your voice heard,” she said. “You can find a local charity, you can join us as a volunteer, you can donate. February is going to be terrible for people living in need.”