Help remains for federal workers following shutdown deal

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While a deal to reopen the government is in place, groups working to help furloughed workers impacted by the shutdown are planning to remain available.

“I think we need to stay until they get paid,” said Cathy Maes, executive director of the nonprofit Loaves and Fishes. “That’s the right thing to do.”

Maes started offering food to furloughed government workers at both terminals at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday. She says they will plan to serve workers' needs until they start receiving their missed paychecks.

“They’re not magically flush with cash,” said Maes. “They have to pay back bills, so if we can help with offsetting their food, that’d be great.”

The Salvation Army also set up a station for workers at the airport Friday, arranging for money to help rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and giving out $25 gift cards for gas money.

“It’s been tremendous just to see the look of hope where there was desperation, where there people who’ve expressed they didn’t know if they were going to be evicted at the end of this month,” said Captain Katherine Clausell of the Salvation Army.

On the flight boards, delays began appearing on departures from Newark and La Guardia from unpaid air traffic controllers calling in sick. There’s a sense that the ripple effects through air travel may have put final pressure on an in-the-works deal, but until the shutdown is more than temporary, there’s no true sense of relief.

“When times are tough, they need something that’s constant and if we can be that constant, they know there’s going to be a meal here, they don’t have to scramble to put something together at home – great, we’ll do that,” said Maes.

Similar services and a food pantry are still open to furloughed employees at 2001 Killebrew Drive, Suite 460 in Bloomington, Minn. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.