PATCH: Almost 500 Federal Workers And Their Kids Flock To BK Food Pantry
By Anna Quinn, Patch Staff
Jan 22, 2019 4:49 pm ET | Updated Jan 22, 2019 5:22 pm ET
FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN — Like many New Yorkers, Kevin Louis didn’t get the day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Flatbush resident spent the night, and part of the next morning, working his shift as a Transportation Security Administration agent until 4 a.m.
But, unlike other workers who weren’t lucky enough to enjoy a long weekend — he did it without getting paid.
“In TSA, a lot of us live paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “That’s why you see TSA are the main people who come out for (these distributions) during the government shutdown.”
And for TSA agents like Louis, it has meant going to work anyway, which he said has been especially hard given that many employees were already struggling with finances.
TSA agents made up the bulk of the 452 people who stopped by the pantry for milk, potatoes, meats, bottles of shampoo and even Brooklyn Nets ticket, Tisdale said. And almost half of the people served, 159 to be exact, were children.
Employees from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the Department of Corrections, the Parks Department, the Department of the Treasury and more also stopped by the pantry, set up by the Food Bank for New York City, the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets and Stop & Shop.
Now the longest in history, the partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22 as lawmakers try to reach a deal surrounding border security and President Donald Trump’s request for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The shutdown has caused financial uncertainty for federal workers across the country, 4,700 of whom filed for unemployment in the last week of December, according to CNBC.
The shutdown could also have devastating consequences for the city’s poor if it continues, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned last week. The city would lose $500 million in direct federal support each month for food stamps, housing subsidies, school lunches and other programs if the government does not reopen by March 1 — a gap the city would be unable to fill, the mayor said.
One woman from Prospect Heights, who works at the National Museum of The American Indian, said the items from the food pantry would help her stretch finances if the shutdown continues. So far, she has lost out on two paychecks because of the shutdown.
“February’s bills are really going to be tough,” said the woman, who did not want to use her name.
“Our government is made up of ordinary, every day people…let’s try to come together to solve this and help people who have full time jobs who are in food lines — that has to stop.”
Photos by Anna Quinn/Patch.