An airport in Florida helps hundreds of federal workers working there to enable food to be put on the table while they work without paying during the ongoing partial shutdown of the government.
Tampa International Airport worked together with Feeding Tampa Bay and United Way Suncoast on Monday to set up a food bank. It takes care off food and toiletries and is aimed at unpaid Transportation Security Administration, US Customs and Border Protection and employees of the Federal Aviation Administration, who must work during the shutdown because their positions are considered vital for safety.
"We are happy to be able to help", airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps told HuffPost. She said that the food bank had about 60 visitors within less than two hours of opening and that many local residents dropped things to help.
Nipps said that airport operations have remained normal, with not much change in TSA staffing. She added that she hopes that giving help agents provides an incentive to continue working.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are struggling to pay for basic necessities, as closing has reached its 24th day, making it the longest government disconnection in US history, thanks to President Donald Trump's refusal to sign an allotment account no $ 5.7 billion includes a southwestern boundary wall. At least 800,000 federal workers across the country were affected by the shutdown and lost their first salary on 11 January.
The food bank of the Tampa International Airport is open until Saturday, and employees can get food aid with a valid ID.
The airport also worked with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit to provide 500 31-day bus passes to federal employees and works with local electricity companies to help employees with their energy bills.
"We look at our TSA partners as part of our TPA family and hope to help them during this time", the airport twittered on Friday using the three-letter code.
Food pantries and national non-profit organizations work to help federal workers to get basic needs. In the first two days, a pop-up food store in Boston helped about 400 families of members of the Coast Guard, the only military branch that worked without pay because it was under the Ministry of Homeland Security.
Second Harvest Food Bank in Tennessee told the Knoxville News Sentinel that it sent nearly 100 emergency food supplies to McGhee Tyson Airport after receiving an "unprecedented" request from the local US federation of government employees to provide them with TSA employees from the facility.
"We have never had such a request," said Rhea Ennist's spokesperson for Second Harvest against the newspaper. "We have been called up for environmental disasters, but never before for this type of event."
The renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés has announced that he will help distribute food by opening a World Central Kitchen nutrition site in Washington, D.C., for unpaid federal workers. Andrés has a history of setting up power stations in times of need, including in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and in Houston after heavy flooding.
Approximately 50,000 TSA agents belong to federal workers and are forced to continue working without pay, and agents are increasingly taking a sick day to look for alternative ways to pay their bills. The TSA trade union last week spoke out against the closure and warned that the staff shortage could pose "a huge security risk" for travelers. TSA manager David Pekoske offered $ 500 bonuses and a daily wage to his employees in the hope of relieving some of the financial pressure.