As the weeks went by and multiple paychecks were missed, many of our affected federal workers and their families no longer had money to pay for food. Many still went to their jobs each day, unpaid, committed to their work. Most never needed help before, often unsure of how to find assistance, and embarrassed at having to ask. These workers and their families unfortunately joined the ranks of the 1 in 6 Oklahomans who confront food insecurity on an ongoing basis.
The Food Bank began receiving calls for assistance about two week into the shutdown and served workers through emergency boxes at the front desk. On January 22, the Food Bank hosted a Pop-Up Market targeting federal employees who were currently struggling without paychecks. Among others, the Food Bank served workers from HUD, IRS, the Departments of Justice and Interior and TSA.
Crystal and Melody work for the Federal Aviation Administration in the Department of Transportation, one of the departments affected by the federal shutdown. They still showed up for work every day but did’t get paid. Their schedules consist of shift work, which removed the option of engaging in outside work to earn income. They also work a six-day week, which adds to their fuel costs.
When they arrived at the Food Bank it was their 32nd day without pay. Melody stated, “Right now I’m living on what I have left in my pantry. So I’m not going shopping. I’m saving all the money I have to pay my mortgage, to pay my bills, and to put gas in my car so I can get to work. This will definitely help me out.”
Arriving at the Food Bank was a first-time experience for many, including Crystal, “I never thought I would end up having to come to a food pantry. This is my first time and there is some pride that is being swallowed. Normally, we have good incomes and we’re the ones who are making donations and organizing these kinds of activities. To be on the receiving end is very humbling and I’m very grateful. We’re on tough times. Thank you for your generosity and your outpouring of love and support.”
“This is just amazing what you all have done here. We couldn’t appreciate it more.” -Melody