As shutdown drags on, federal workers flock to food pantries

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS) – Federal workers — who haven’t seen paychecks since before the government closed on Dec. 22 — are lining up at food pantries across the U.S.

The Capital Area Food Bank, which operates in the Washington, D.C., area, hosted five pop-up food pantry locations after federal workers — who missed their paychecks for the first time last Friday — flooded the organization’s “Hunger Lifeline” with calls for help, according to President and CEO Radha Muthiah.

Hotline representatives direct callers to the food pantries closest to their homes, and help make them aware of supplementary nutrition alternatives.

“We have seen an uptick in the number of calls from individuals who weren’t traditionally clients to better understand the emergency food assistance network in our area should the shutdown persist,” Muthiah told CBS MoneyWatch. “Typically, SNAP [food stamps] recipients are the ones that come to food pantries, but what we did this weekend was targeted to federal workers and contractors who typically earn more income but had missed paychecks.”

Nearly 2,500 federal employees from the Department of Agriculture, Homeland Security, the State Department, the White House and other agencies lined up across the five D.C.-area pantry locations last weekend.

“There were so many people in need of additional support and assistance. Many live paycheck to paycheck, so the absence of one paycheck, particularly in the winter when heating bills are higher, has a snowball effect,” Muthiah said.

To read the full story, click here.

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