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Virginia Peninsula Foodbank offers food to furloughed federal workers

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HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — As the nation heads into week five of the partial government shutdown, the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank decided to step in to help local, federal workers.  

The foodbank handed out food to several federal workers struggling from the shutdown on Friday.

There were grocery baskets and plenty of food but for the shoppers, this shopping experience is one they likely didn’t expect to have.

“These are individuals who may have been our donors or who never in their wildest dreams thought that they would need the assistance of the food bank,” said Karen Joyner, Virginia Peninsula Foodbank CEO.

Furloughed workers filled their carts with frozen chickens, cereal, bacon, canned goods and other staples to get them through this shutdown. Some foodbank volunteers are government employees themselves.

“I’m okay right now, but the longer this drags on, it’s going to start affecting more and more people. So I figured I’m okay, so I’ll volunteer my time to help some of the people who maybe aren’t in the same place in life as I am,” Kristie Swartz said.

The foodbank said it wasn’t until last week that they noticed an increased need for their help. 

“Friday everybody missed their first paycheck and all of a sudden this week, our phones are blowing up,” Joyner said. “We’re getting so many more phone calls; we’re getting more people walking in.”

The foodbank tells 10 On Your Side that the holidays bring in big donations so, for now, the food supply is there. However, foodbank officials said if the shutdown continues into next month, things could change. That’s because many in the community they regularly serve still need help too. 

“What I anticipate happening is those benefits will not last throughout February, so come mid-February we’re going to have a major amount of increase and a little crisis of people needing food assistance,” Joyner said.

For now, they’re remaining optimistic and encouraging people affected to stop by. “Everybody needs a little help every now and then,” Joyner said.

The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank said it will continue to hand out food to federal workers on Fridays until the shutdown ends. They’re also encouraging people to donate if possible.

They say just $1 can provide four meals for the community.

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