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Some federal workers turning to food bank

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dozens of federal workers who are not receiving paychecks due to the partial shutdown of the federal government have contacted Roadrunner Food Bank seeking information about getting groceries.

And those are just the people who identified themselves as furloughed federal workers, so there are likely many more, Roadrunner Food Bank spokeswoman Sonya Warwick said Wednesday – the 26th day of the shutdown.

“We began receiving calls a couple of weeks ago from federal employees who expressed concern about not having enough food for their families,” she said. “We’ve been connecting them to food bank and pantry partners in their local communities where they can access food.”

An estimated 10,700 federal workers in New Mexico are caught up in the government shutdown. Many are not working, and others are working without pay.

In New Mexico, Roadrunner supplies food to nearly 500 locations through its sister food banks and pantries in Santa Fe, Clovis, Farmington and Gallup, helping to feed more than 70,000 people weekly, Warwick said. Whether someone is employed by the federal government is not a question typically asked at food pantries. People may be asked for identification to determine whether they live in the ZIP code being served by that pantry. If they have minors in the household, they may be asked to show birth certificates for those children.

From 20 to 25 percent of products in Roadrunner’s warehouse are U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities, Warwick said. The federal government shutdown has not affected that supply. Any USDA products that have been ordered, at least until March, will be delivered to food banks. Beyond that, the shutdown “could impact USDA orders and deliveries,” Warwick said.

Roadrunner is, however, in need of food donations.

“Over the last six to eight months, there has been less food available at the food bank, but not because of the government shutdown,” she said. “It’s just an unexplainable trend we’ve been seeing.”

Roadrunner is in need of nonperishable items, such as canned soups, vegetables and fruits; boxed meals; and a variety of beans, either canned or bagged dry beans.

Any federal employee not getting paid who has concerns about food security can call the Roadrunner Food Bank food assistance line at 505-349-5340, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls can be anonymous.

Albuquerque Public Schools is also offering free or reduced-priced meals for families who need them. Federal employees affected by the government shutdown can apply online. Go to paypams.com/OnlineApp.aspx.

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