Food pantries prepare to help federal workers as shutdown continues


PADUCAH — Because of the partial government shutdown, 800,000 people are not getting paid Friday. President Donald Trump said in a news conference days ago that landlords and bill collectors should be lenient with federal workers going without paychecks. But, is that actually happening?

Banks, apartment complexes and utility companies are all places Local 6 called Friday in search of the answer.

There are more than 30,000 federal employees in Kentucky. That’s a lot of families unsure if they can make ends meet. Many banks and companies said they can’t discuss whether they are showing any leniency right now. But, I did speak with food pantries bracing for impact if and when federal workers need help.

Rolling out the carts and loading the bags, Jackie Blagg and her husband have operated this food pantry at Lone Oak Church of Christ for more than 40 years.

“If your heart’s in the right place, you never get tired of helping the needy. Even after 40 years, you know, we’re just glad that we’ve been doing it all this time,” Blagg said.

Because of the government shutdown, the Blaggs said they are preparing for the first time to help federal workers going without paychecks.

“It’s hard to imagine that you haven’t done anything wrong and yet you’re having to do without and make some decisions. At this point in time, we’re in pretty good shape to handle it just because we happen to have a little more on hand than we do at other times, but it will go pretty quickly,” Blagg said.

There are also federal food programs in question.

Low-income seniors get Canned goods, milk, cereal, and other items every month at Paducah Cooperative Ministry. They’re also things they could go without if the government shutdown continues.

PCM Director Heidi Suhrheinrich said their federal senior food program supports 400 low-income seniors.

“We hoped and trusted it would get resolved, but as every day goes by it does increase worry and anxiety about what will happen to these folks if the food doesn’t come in next month. What if it doesn’t come in the month after that either? I don’t know where this will end. Nobody does right now that’s here on the ground, on the front lines,” Suhrheinrich said.

Blagg said it’s up to us to help our neighbors.

“If the shutdown continues, we should all continue to try to help others who are impacted by it as much as we can, and try not to focus so much on the politics but just helping each other,” Blagg said.

The shutdown is currently tied for the longest one in U.S. history. With much of Congress home for the weekend, the shutdown is poised to break the record.

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