CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Dozens of furloughed employees came out to the Mountaineer Food Bank’s monthly distribution at the Veterans Memorial Park in Clarksburg Friday — day 28 of the partial U.S. government shutdown.
Mountaineer Food Bank hosts a distribution for veterans and seniors on the third Friday of each month, but this month decided to help another group currently in great need.
“We started hearing from employers, whether it be the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the FBI, we started hearing from them about Monday, so this is a reaction to that concern,” said Mountaineer Food Bank Senior Hunger Specialist Vicki Cawthon with Mountaineer Food Bank. “They’re concerned about their employees because they’re working and they’re not getting paid. Since we were coming here anyway, we decided that we would do some food relief for the furloughed employees.”
By 11 o’clock Friday morning, Cawthon said she’d already seen 50 individuals and/or families come out.
“And it’s really surprising,” she said. “It’s not just local. It’s not just FBI. It’s from the prisons from Gilmer and Hazelton. People are concerned and people need this.”
As families came to accept a box of food, Cawthon said she heard many words of appreciation and stories of how needed the seemingly small action truly is.
“There’s a pretty big need. If you’re laid off then that’s one issue,” she said. “If you’re furloughed, that means you still have to report to work every day and have all the expenses. Working is expensive. You still have all the expenses that are involved with going to work every day, whether it be daycare, gas and those things, but you’re not getting a paycheck. So that gets real pretty quick.”
It’s particularly tough for large households.
“Most people don’t have a real big cushion to fall back on when these things happen, and just real quick things get tight,” Cawthon said.
After speaking with those families and hearing of the struggles they’re currently facing, Cawthon said she’s hoping to see the issue be resolved rather quickly.
“We don’t care about the politics of this. Mountaineer Food Bank is just about feeding people. That’s what we do, that’s what we’re good at and that’s what we’re doing here today,” she said. “But if this doesn’t get resolved pretty soon, we’ll probably look at doing something a little bit more substantial.”