Nonprofits, communities stepping up to help furloughed government workers

Friday marks the second payday federal workers will miss due to the government shutdown.

In an effort to keep morale up and give federal airport workers a break, meals will be served daily at both terminals inside Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport for the next 21 days.

Cathy Maes is the executive director of Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit that serves nutritious meals to those in need. When she got the call to help out, she never hesitated.

“I know that the people we serve are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Maes. “I can’t imagine how hard that would be if you don’t have a cushion—a financial cushion—so hopefully this will give them some breathing room and show them that we care about what they do and how they do their work.”

In Eagan at Easter Lutheran Church, organizers say they're seeing more and more new faces showing up for their nightly community dinners.

Katie Langerud and her family decided to join in on the meal for the first time. Her husband is an essential federal employee who has not received a paycheck in nearly two weeks. She stays at home with their three young children.

“It’s like, we need the money, and so it just becomes a struggle—we were okay with one paycheck, but now that it’s two and we are starting to panic about how we are going to pay for our bills and live in our house,” said Langerud. “My husband still has to go to work.”

Langerud and her family are among hundreds of thousands of people who are constantly thinking how they will pay their bills and feed their families.

At Hunger Solutions in St. Paul, staffers are receiving quadruple the number of calls during this shutdown as Minnesotans are fearful that their food benefits will soon run out. With no end in sight, families like the Langeruds just hope everything will get resolved quickly.

“We know that God will take care of us, so we do a lot of praying, but it’s really not in our hands, so what do we do?” said Langerud. “We just keep moving forward and do what we can and get through it that way.”

In addition to the financial assistance, on Friday the Salvation Army will be opening a food bank at the TSA headquarters in Bloomington.