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Central PA Food Bank Feeding Hundreds Of Furloughed Federal Employees

Michael Rubinkam
In this photo taken May 19, 2017, bags of food packed by volunteers at the Backpack Buddies program are seen in at Second Harvest Food Bank in Nazareth, Pa.

Hundreds of furloughed federal workers are turning to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to help make ends meet as the partial federal government shutdown drags on.

From 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, every week until the shutdown ends, the food bank is turning its two primary hubs in Harrisburg and Williamsport into central locations for shutdown-affected people to come—work badge in hand—to receive packages of food.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Sands says in the three days the program has been in effect, they’ve handed out food to around 400 people.

They’re expecting even more in the coming weeks as people go even longer without a paycheck.

“We had one gentlemen who, you know he didn’t know if he was going to be able to pay for gas next week because he commutes about an hour, I think, to a federal prison job,” Sands said. “He just didn’t know how he was going to get there.”

Sands added that for a lot of these people, even going to the food bank is painful.

“You know, they just didn’t want to come,” she said. “They certainly didn’t want to talk about their experiences. And I think some of them were a little bit—I don’t want to say embarrassed, but maybe that is the word to use.”

Along with the assistance for federal workers, the food bank is also continuing to distribute food to its partner groups.

Workers and volunteers have been taking on extra hours as a way to help with the effort.