The fantasy that gives libertarians sweaty palms and fits of heavy breathing has come true—a significant swath of the federal government has essentially disappeared (albeit temporarily—probably).
Now, some Coast Guard families are relying on food banks to eat, there’s a sudden uptick in the number of Uber drivers on the road, and you might be able to snag some sweet deals on Craigslist thanks to our nation’s great unpaid patriots.
Across Pennsylvania, approximately 12,000 furloughed federal employees have now gone more than 30 days without a paycheck.
Although a few bottom-of-the-barrel pundits are borderline gleeful that federal workers are suffering a bit, here in the Greater Pittsburgh area, nonprofits and some businesses are trying to make the situation a little less bad.
Over in Collier Township, the Walnut Grill is offering free meals to folks affected by the shutdown. Unpaid workers and their families can select from an assortment of salads, sandwiches, and flatbread pizzas.
[General Manager Marc Hourvitz has] seen dozens of out-of-work families visit his restaurant for the offer. They only need to show a valid government ID.
“It’s been nice,” Hourvitz said. “We’ve had more people say something about this than almost any other program we’ve done.”—Pittsburgh Tribune Review
That offer is good for repeat visits and is available at all Walnut Grill locations.
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has also leaped into action. It has created text alert system to notify affected workers about food distribution dates:
…people should text FEDSD to 898-211 to receive updates and information through 2-1-1 via text. The text code will be active throughout the shutdown. When FEDSD is texted to 898-211 it will direct subscribers to specific resources and how to connect with a 2-1-1 center if their need is urgent. 2-1-1 is a 24/7/365 service that connects people to community organizations who can help with their health and human service needs.—PittsburghFoodBank.org
On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the food bank is holding a distribution at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Volunteers are needed.
Animal Friends is pitching in with pet food assistance for furloughed and unpaid federal workers.
Some cultural organizations are joining in, too.
The Pittsbugh Symphony Orchestra is offering free tickets to unpaid workers, City Books is offering pay-what-you-can pricing, and a few movie theaters are waiving admission for furloughed/unpaid workers and their families. The City Paper has a more detailed rundown.