Food drive for unpaid federal workers
The food pantry at Angels of Long Island was set up in just two days, after furloughed government workers needed help during the government shutdown.

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Food drive for unpaid federal workers

Story By: GLENN ROHRBACKER
1/11/2019


In just two days, Angels of Long Island, a non-profit organization based in East Patchogue, has set up a makeshift food pantry in their thrift store headquarters. The recipients of the food are mainly government workers who are currently not being paid due to the federal shutdown.

“Most of these people live paycheck to paycheck,” said Debra Loesch, founder of Angels of Long Island.

The organization doesn’t do a food pantry. Loesch said Stop n Shop has been a weekly donor of bread and other goods that are open to those in need, but she doesn’t have the infrastructure for a full food pantry on top of the thrift store. Nevertheless, once families ran out of money during the shutdown, they started reaching out to Loesch, who said her inbox has been slammed with inquiries of where they could go for help.

Early this week, the “pantry” was scarce as families came in and cleaned out the few donations that were there. Thanks to the Grace United Methodist Church in Lindenhurst, who donated over a dozen cases of food, the pantry is stocked as of Thursday morning. But donations are still desperately needed as the shutdown has no end in sight and families are without an income.

Loesch is hoping the organization’s slogan, “neighbors helping neighbors” will prove to be true, and the community will rally around those in need and donate. Many of the workers in need are Internal Revenue Service employees in Holtsville or Air Traffic Controllers at MacArthur airport, who are still required to attend work, but without pay. POLITICO reported Thursday that pay stubs to controllers across the country were distributed with a net pay of zero.

Loesch has heard stories of people who need help, many of them used to grocery shopping but now unable to purchase food for their families. Many of those in need are in the immediate community. Even some of the organization’s regular volunteers are asking for help and people have come as far as Lindenhurst and Port Jefferson to access the food pantry.

The pantry is currently stocked with a variety of non-perishable items, like stuffing, pasta, mac & cheese, and canned goods. There are also some toiletries like toilet paper and toothpaste, and baby food, formula and diapers. Loesch said she also received donations of gift cards to local stores where families could go to buy additional items to create a meal.

Loesch is also concerned with what will happen in February. Originally, SNAP (food stamp) benefits were set to expire, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has guaranteed a payment date of Jan. 20, which would extend the benefits into February. Nevertheless, there is potential for even more people to be without the daily necessities.

“This is like putting a Band-Aid on a big, big problem,” Loesch said of her organization’s efforts during this time.

Angels of Long Island is still collecting donations at their East Patchogue location at 350 East Main Street behind Mi Territa. They are looking for cereal, soups, canned goods, as well as easy meals and already prepared foods. They are also requesting donations of gift cards to local supermarkets. For more information, contact angelsoflongisland@outlook.com.