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The Government Is Open, But People Are Still Suffering—And Hungry, Pittsburgh Food Bank Says

Furloughed government workers are heading back to work Monday after President Trump signed a temporary end to the partial federal government shutdown. The repercussions, though, are still being felt throughout the community. With the threat of another potential shutdown looming, local organizations are preparing for the worst.  

Without a paycheck, Pittsburgh families had a hard time putting food on the table, says Traci Weatherford-Brown, chief advancement officer for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. And they often felt hesitant to ask for help. 

"When you are someone who is working what you know is a well-compensated job for your government in civil service, which you’re committed to, and you’re still going to work and you’re not getting paid, to have to ask for that help, it was such a struggle for families,” she says.

She joins Jim Blatnick, AFL-CIO community services liaison with United Way, to talk about ongoing efforts to help feed federal workers. The partial shutdown could resume, bringing more insecurity and continued need, Blatnick says. If that happens, Weatherford-Brown says the food bank will be there.

Elsewhere in the program, Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly known as the Greater Pittsburgh Literary Council) CEO Carey Harris talks about the organization’s efforts to build a stronger workforce. Find more information about volunteering here.

Jamie Upshaw of Hazelwood found that it was difficult to get a proper autism diagnosis for her youngest son, but even more difficult to find resources after his diagnosis, so she created her own nonprofit to help parents of children with autism.

And Lawrenceville Unitedhost a community forum Monday in partnership with FBI units working on hate crimes and domestic terrorism. Dave Breingan, the group's executive director, says the meeting was organized as a space to discuss recent acts of hate in the Lawrenceville community, including vandalism against businesses and numerous sightings of neo-Nazi recruitment flyers. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episods of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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