DUQUESNE, Pa. (KDKA) – The federal government is the third largest employer in Allegheny County, and with no end in sight for the shutdown, a local food bank is offering help for thousands of families.
As the historic government shutdown moves into its fourth week, anti-hunger advocates knew they needed to step in. Help is available for the government workers in Pittsburgh who haven’t received a paycheck in that time.
One in eight Pennsylvanians are on food assistance, now add 20,000 government employees.
That’s how many government workers are in the Pittsburgh region who may need food help now. The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank has been hearing from them and they’re ready at the warehouse in Duquesne.
“This time must be very difficult for folks, so we want to make sure we’re available to help in any way that we can,” said Charla Irwin-Buncher, with the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.
With a partial government shutdown happening right before Christmas, the food bank began hearing from worried workers.
“We had some folks reach out to us on social media and that really started up after that first paycheck was not received,” Irwin-Buncher said.
It’s coming up on a month and now there is no paycheck. The Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank knows well about working with people who don’t have enough for bills, utilities or food.
“If we can help out by providing some supplemental assistance to help stretch those dollars that might be in the savings account a little bit further so hopefully folks don’t have to pay for groceries on a credit card,” Irwin-Buncher said.
So right now, government workers can receive an emergency food box with staples like pasta, condensed milk, peanut butter and beans and fresh vegetables and fruits as well as personal care items.
The food bank says they are a first line of defense and want to be a safety net for furloughed workers.
“That’s why we exist we’re here when folks are having a tough time,” Irwin-Buncher said.
With volunteers working in the warehouse in Duquesne packing food, the food bank’s motto is, “neighbors helping neighbors,” and they don’t want anyone to go without.
“Federal employees have a special place in our heart to begin with so we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to be supportive of them during this time,” Irwin-Buncher said.
You can go to the Food Bank on North Linden Street in Duquesne to pick up a food box Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., but there are other locations as well. The food bank works with 400 partner agencies and food banks in communities all around the region and runs supplemental programs called Produce to People and Green Grocer.
For more information, including dates and times for of pickups and programs that span 11 counties, go to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank website.
Once on the website, go to the menu bar on the top right portion of their page and scroll down to the green GET HELP bar. Then, go to locator and type in your zip code to see the food pantries closest to you along with their days and times. Under locator section, also find more supplemental food programs.