Federal workers getting help from food banks, businesses during shutdown

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Mid-South Food Bank says it's seeing a surge of furloughed federal workers and their families seeking assistance as the government shutdown hit its 28th day Friday.

More than 170 people were screened for assistance by the food bank at the airport this week, communications director Andrew Bell said, and more were served at mobile food pantries in the city.

A mobile food pantry distribution event Friday was set up to serve 240 people who had signed up, and Bell said the majority of them were federal workers.

Bell said the Mid-South Food Bank had received a call to help workers at the local FBI office, as well.

Meanwhile, community groups and businesses are banding together to help furloughed workers.

A food and restaurant gift card drive was organized at Donut Hutt and Baskin Robbins in Collierville on Friday, and more donations will be taken Sunday at Neshoba Church, 7350 Raleigh Lagrange in Cordova.

About 800,000 federal workers around the country are either furloughed or working without pay. Hundreds of those work for the IRS office, airport, Coast Guard and other jobs in Memphis.

"It’s getting real now," said Mia Williams, a TSA agent at the Memphis airport who was working without a paycheck this week. "We need food. We still have to pay mortgages. We still gotta pay car notes, insurance."

FAA air traffic controllers and the TSA officers have been reporting to work at the airport, despite no paycheck due to the partial government shutdown.

"We sympathize with these federal employees they are working without a paycheck," said airport spokesman Glen Thomas. "We very much appreciate them."

Runway 901 Bar and Grill in the airport is offering half off food for federal employees.

Other businesses across the city are also trying to help out, like Lenny's sub shop downtown, which is offering a 30 percent discount to federal workers.

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