Local communities rally to feed federal workers as shutdown continues

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MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- The month-long shut down now has some federal workers turning to their communities and food banks for help.

There were a wide-range of events Friday across the tri-state area where neighbors are attempting to help neighbors— all while frustration is growing.

Baking away in the back of the Montclair Bread Company is the only way owner Rachel Wyman knows how to help with the partial government shutdown.

“We decided to give coffee and bread and sandwiches to anyone working without pay who’s been furloughed,” Wyman said. “In addition, me and my kids also put together donuts for all the TSA workers at Newark Airport and we delivered them yesterday morning.”

Wyman also hosted a forum where some of the more than 5,000 affected New Jersey federal workers took their troubles directly to Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.

The crowd included Coast Guard moms like Colleen Schultz speaking on behalf of her son Cody.

“He has rent that’s due,” Schultz said. “He has a car payment that’s due.”

Federal prison workers like Rod Koeppen also came out.

“We have a choice right now between paying for gas to go to work, or taking care of our families,” Koeppen said. “It’s a difficult time.”

He wonders why Democrats cannot reach a compromise with President Trump.

“Whatever your ideals are, want a wall, don’t want a wall, there has to be a happy medium somewhere you have to come up with a resolution that’s your job,” Koeppen said.

Menendez said he’d consider a comprehensive border security and immigration compromise that might include better technology, a path to citizenship, relief for DREAMERS and even a little wall money— but added:

“There’s no good faith here by this White House that would be willing to accept comprehensive reform,” Menendez said.

In general, Democrats said Friday they do not think the shutdown should be tied to a board security debate.

“Don’t take it out on the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D) New York. “Open the government, and then we can discuss the best way for border security.”

Meanwhile, local officials in the Bronx and beyond are starting to open food banks for federal workers on the verge of missing their second paycheck in a row next week.

“Imagine for a moment you’re a federal employee living paycheck-to-paycheck in the most expensive city in the world, and you go a month without collecting a dollar,” said NYC Councilman Ritchie Torres, (D) Bronx. “It mean you no longer have the ability to put food on the table or pay rent.”

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