The partial government shutdown is beginning to affect Kentucky food banks as federal workers struggle to live without paychecks.
Federal workers in Kentucky who are furloughed and or working without pay are feeling the financial strain on their grocery budgets.
“What we are noticing is a large increase in inquiries," said Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. "People are calling, they’re sending social media saying, 'I’m impacted by the federal shutdown. What do I need to do to get help?' That’s why food banks and food pantries are here, we are here to help between paychecks, as you’re waiting for your next paycheck to come.”
She said lots of inquiries are coming in by phone and social media, and some of the callers are not used to asking for food.
“A pantry in northern Kentucky, Gallatin County Food Pantry, is saying they’ve gotten a couple of inquiries from people saying I’ve never needed help, but this shutdown is affecting me, but what do I need to do to get help,” said Sandberg
Even before the shutdown, about 40 percent of food pantries across Kentucky were unable to meet community demand. But Sandberg encourages federal government employees impacted by the shutdown to go to food pantries because local communities step up in times of need with donations and food drives.
So far, there’s no sign of when the next paycheck will come for federal goverment employees.
A spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees said the union has 972 members in Kentucky impacted by the shutdown, including employees of the Bureau of Prisons, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Census Bureau.
The number of federal employees in Kentucky actually impacted by the shutdown is estimated to be close to 2,000, because federal government workers are not required to join the union, and about half of those in the Bluegrass State are not union members.