Central Texas Food Bank providing 'emergency' relief to furloughed federal workers

"This was just a phone call on a Saturday right before Christmas that said 'you are no longer coming to work on Monday,'" said furloughed IRS worker Natasha Jensen.

Jensen told FOX 7 Wednesday she is one of the many furloughed federal employees around the country.  The single mom is desperately trying to find a way to provide for her family during the government shutdown.

"I have called all my creditors and they have said 'if you want to keep your car insurance and your lights, you have to pay us.  There is no forbearance, there is nothing I can do. so I have been looking for work," Jensen said.

Because of the unprecedented length of the shutdown the Central Texas Food Bank took an unprecedented step on Wednesday: an "emergency" food distribution for federal employees.

"We figure there are about 25,000 federal workers in our service area and a lot of those have been affected and most of them have probably never found themselves in a position like this where they have to seek our services," said Paul Gaither with the Food Bank.

"I'm typically the one that...gives.  So it's hard.  It's hard to be in this position," Jensen said.  

Irene Gomez drove in from Kyle with her daughter, a federal worker who hasn't gotten paid and who has 2 teenaged mouths to feed. "She has a car payment, house payment, utilities, insurance, she's not sure how her insurance is going to work out.  She filed for unemployment but nothing has come in yet," Gomez said. And of course, groceries.

"I'm helping her with all that.  We're helping, my husband and I.  So it's still a burden on us also because I'm retired.  So you know...to just one check.  My husband, it's a good thing he's working," Gomez said.  

At the Food Bank Wednesday, you didn't have to prove you were a federal worker, just come, sign in and furloughed employees got non-perishable canned food, produce, water, hygienic items like toothpaste, mouthwash and baby wipes, just in case.

"This helps her with some of it.  So it's good for her," Gomez said.

And it wasn't just distribution.  

The Food Bank held a resource fair as well. "By that I mean we're helping them understand how to access our resources beyond today in the event that this government shutdown lasts longer than we really want it to," said Derrick Chubbs, President & CEO of Central Texas Food Bank.

Gomez says her daughter isn't sleeping well because of the stress of the shutdown.  

Both Gomez and Jensen have messages for lawmakers in Washington. "You need border security, yes I'm all for that, you need immigration laws, yes, but they need to pass them in Congress and they've had 2 years to pass them and they haven't.  That's what upsets me so much," Gomez said.  

"This has nothing to do with security.  And unfortunately I don't think that we should be forced to work without pay just because people want a tax refund," Jensen said.  

The Central Texas Food Bank says their resources are typically depleted right after the holidays.  And today's distribution will deplete resources even more.

So donations are very welcome. You can do that at centraltexasfoodbank.org.  

They say they can make a dollar go a long way.



Central Texas Food Bank helping those affected by government shutdown

Central Texas Food Bank stepping in to help furloughed employees