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Know someone affected by the shutdown? Local non-profit wants to help.

Know someone affected by the shutdown? Local non-profit wants to help.

[UPDATE 1/25 AT 1PM:]
Tri-Cities Food Bank (TCFB) is opening exclusively for government employees affected by the shutdown on Saturday, Jan. 26. Financial advisers will be available for questions. Federal employees must show employment verification and proof of current address to qualify.
When: Saturday, Jan. 26 from 8 am to 3 pm.
Where: 424 West Deschutes Ave. in Kennewick.
Phone: 509-586-0688
[END OF UPDATE]
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With the partial government shutdown nearing its one-month mark, most Tri-Cities families are unaffected.

They’re heading to work and getting a paycheck.

But for those who aren’t, the Tri-Cities Food Bank (TCFB) is trying to go the extra mile.

Executive director Tim Sullivan says his team is working with the airport and other local agencies to coordinate help for those finding themselves stuck in limbo until the politicians figure out how to pay everyone.

“Some of our folks have to make a decision between what resources they may have to pay bills or eat,” Sullivan said. “And in our community that's unacceptable.”

He says at this time last week, their Kennewick warehouse was 90 percent full.

It's emptier now but he says he’s not worried, he’s actually hoping to see more folks stop by.

Especially federal employees affected by the nation’s stalled government.

“If you're hungry today and you're not able to reach out to us, you're going to be hungry tomorrow,” he said. “Right now these folks are needing that help because they didn't expect to be in this position and they don't know how long they may be in this position.”

RELATED STORY: Food bank is prepared to feed those affected by government shutdown

On Friday, Sullivan contacted leaders at the Tri-Cities Airport (PSC).

He’s trying to coordinate relief for more than 60 TSA and FAA employees preparing to miss another pay check.

Tri-Cities Airport director Buck Taft said it's rewarding to see community-members asking how to help.

“We've been doing everything we can to get them the information,” Taft said before adding that PSC administrators are limited in what they can do.

“[Federal employees] can't accept money and we can't pay their check,” he explained. “I think right now the meals are very appreciated.”

Taft says due to safety concerns the airport can’t accept or pass along homemade meals.

He says a plate full of ham sandwiches makes a wonderful gesture, but the risk of exposing workers to food-poisoning is too great.

The airport director says an easy way to lighten their burden simple: be kind as you head to your flight.

“Understand that they're not getting paid and they're coming in to work everyday with a positive attitude,” he said.

Taft told Action News the airport’s federally-funded employees are vital, and flights are grounded without them.

“We cannot screen passengers,” he explained. “That is TSA's job and if they're not here, this airport's not operating.”

Sullivan says TCFB wants to make contact with other Tri-Cities workers affected by the shutdown, and he wants federal employees to feel welcome.

He says it’s a judgement-free zone, and after meeting with Taft on Monday he plans to extend the non-profit's hours of operation.

“This crowd is a little different because it's not something they're used to,” Sullivan said. “They might not even know they’re in trouble until they open the fridge.”

That’s why he thinks word of mouth and social-media are an important part of the process, and he’s asking you to help spread the word.

“When you have nothing else, you have your dignity,” he explained. “These are the folks that live right next door to us in our community and we want them to know we're here.”

Get Involved:

  • If you know someone who isn’t sure how to feed their family, contact Tim Sullivan at Facebook: Tri-Cities Food Bank.
  • Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) welcomes donations of professionally made foods and sealed non-perishable items.
    For more information call the airport at 509-547-6352.
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