Furloughed federal employees head to food pantries to offset lack of pay

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ELIZABETH -

The partial federal government shutdown would become the country’s longest government shutdown by this weekend – at over three weeks.

Friday was supposed to be payday for thousands of federal workers, but instead they were given pay stubs with all zeros.

The lack of pay has caused some furloughed workers to seek out some of New Jersey’s food pantries in order to get some extra assistance to help their families.

Transportation Security Administration employee “Sonia” has worked for the federal government for 15 years. She says that visiting a food pantry is not something she even thought that she would have to do. She says that the is so uncomfortable with that fact that she did not want News 12 New Jersey to use her face or last name.

“If you’re not a person who usually seeks aid or need, it puts you in a different position,” she says.

It is a position that thousands of furloughed workers in New Jersey are now finding themselves in.

RELATED: Federal employees working without pay call for an end to the shutdown 
RELATED: TSA workers treated to free pizza amid federal government shutdown 

Kimberly Paige is also a first timer at the Elizabethport Food Distribution Pantry in Elizabeth. She says that it is a tough, ego-blowing visit, while already dealing with the emotions of being out of work and no indication as to when the next paycheck will come.

"It's sad. You don't know day-to-day what's going on and you have the people at the top playing with your lives,” she says.

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey says there are about 5,000 federal workers in New Jersey they could potentially serve.

“They have nothing to be ashamed about. It's them today and it could be us tomorrow,” says James Carey who works at the Elizabethport pantry.

The Elizabethport pantry is open Fridays, but organizers say that accommodations can be made for federal employees who need assistance. They will even be able to pick up food in private.

The federal government has been shut down for 21 days while the Trump administration and Democrats feud over funding for a wall along the United States-Mexico border.

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