Ways to help federal workers during the government shutdown

Posted at 2:23 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 16:23:15-05

Nearly 800,000 government workers will miss their second paychecks Friday when the government shutdown extends into its 35th day. Many of these workers — who have no idea when they will next be paid — have turned to local food banks and charities for essentials they can no longer afford, including groceries, medical care and other critical expenses.

Fortunately, not-for-profits have stepped in to help cash-strapped workers subsist as the longest-ever government shutdown continues with no obvious end in sight. For people who want to help, here are some organizations that charity experts say are worth considering.


The website GoFundMe last week announced its own fundraiser for government workers after a wave of unpaid workers started individual campaigns in the wake of the shutdown.

GoFundMe matched an initial $10,000 donation from alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra to launch a campaign that provides relief for government workers. Donations are distributed across a handful of nonprofit organizations dedicated to offering assistance to government workers. (Many of the organizations described below each received an award of $50,000 from GoFundMe.)

Nearly 5,000 people have contributed more than $355,000 in five days to the GoFundMe campaign.

World Central Kitchen

Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen is soliciting restaurants, food trucks and non-profits to help provide hot meals to federal employees affected by the shutdown through its #ChefsForFeds Nation campaign. Federal employees can receive a free meal to either take out or eat in at a kitchen and cafe located in Washington, D.C., at 701 Pennsylvania Ave., near the U.S. Navy Memorial.

It is accepting donations through its website.

National Diaper Bank Network

The National Diaper Bank Network is distributing diapers to furloughed workers through locations across the country.

Ways to give are listed on its website. 

Feeding America

Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks that serve local food and hunger-relief programs across the country, is soliciting donations to assist Americans “facing a situation they never imagined.”

“A few weeks ago they were celebrating the holidays; today they are worried about where their next meal will come from,” the organization said in a statement

Click here to donate.  

Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund

The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, an independent nonprofit serving federal workers since 1986, is offering eligible federal employees no-interest, emergency hardship loans to help them cover costs while they are furloughed.

Donations can be made here. 

Capital Area Food Bank

The Capital Area Food Bank — which typically serves about 3 million meals during the month of January — estimates it will give away an additional 600,000 meals this month, costing the organization about $300,000 more than budgeted, as a direct result of the government shutdown.

It is hosting free pop-up markets across the Washington, D.C., area in locations with high concentrations of federal employees to distribute grocery items to federal workers and contractors.

Thousands of workers have visited the sites. Click here to donate.

The American Legion

The American Legion is helping furloughed Coast Guard families stay afloat through $700,000 worth of grants awarded in recent weeks. Thousands of families are applying for grants — and the American Legion is seeking donations to help accommodate as many requests for assistance that it can. So far it has processed about 2,000 applications, but another 2,000 are still pending.

“The magnitude of applications from folks was much bigger than anyone was prepared for and frankly we need the support of donors to help coastguard families in need,” said marketing director Scott Miller.

 — Story by Megan Cerullo – CBS News Moneywatch

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