Feeding the furloughed: Do-gooders dole out free meals at Barclays to Feds out of work due to shutdown

Helping hand: Michael Maxwell, a TSA agent who has been working without pay for the past month, grabbed essentials from the Food Bank of New York City.
Photo by Colin Mixson

Dozens of federal employees still out of work and pay due to the longest government shutdown in American history swung by the Barclays Center on Tuesday to pick up free food and toiletries doled out by a city do-good group.

Standing in line to collect the complimentary care packages doled out by the Food Bank for New York City humbled one of the furloughed Feds, who said it was her first time accepting charity.

“It feels really bad,” said Kuwanna Warthen, a Canarsie resident employed as a legal assistant with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “It makes you think about the country and the direction it’s going in. It shouldn’t have to come to this.”

Volunteers at the three-hour giveaway, which Food Bank leaders hosted in partnership with operators of the Prospect Heights arena, handed out items including dried food, milk, meat, vegetables, and toiletries to more than 200 people — some of whom came with kids in tow.

Many folks who showed up work for the Transportation Security Administration, and some federal workers facing the prospect of missing a second paycheck come Friday said they called in sick so they wouldn’t miss out on the gratis grub.

The do-good group organized the event in response to an increase in federal workers walking into its pantries across the city, and in calls to the group about its assistance programs, as the shutdown continued, according to a Food Bank volunteer.

“We’ve seen a large number of calls,” said Zanita Tisdale.

And the Food Bank will continue to stage such giveaways, Tisdale said, as long as President Trump refuses to budge on erecting his beloved wall at the United States–Mexico border and reopen the government — which on Wednesday remained closed for a record 33rd day.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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