Merced Co. Food Bank launch fundraiser to help furloughed workers impacted by shutdown

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Dozens of furloughed Federal employees are turning to food banks for a meal.

It's day 32 of the government shutdown, and Merced County food bank officials say they're getting several calls from worried federal employees.

"It's heartbreaking to hear people who have jobs, or who have been able to provide for families have found themselves in a situation where they just need to eat," said Joseph Hypes, Development Director of the Merced Co. Food Bank.

Hypes says the food bank is now faced with the issue of feeding furloughed employees, on top of the 19,000 people they already feed.

Food bank officials says they've gotten call from TSA agents, Castle Air Force base and prison employees in just the last few days.

Hypes says they've started a donation website in hopes of providing some help.

"We're looking to raise money to get some emergency boxes to these employees that will supply food to them to their families," Hypes said.

Students at UC Merced are also trying to assist by volunteering and holding food drives

However, with the start of a new semester some students are even feeling the a hit from the shutdown.

"The first week is buying textbooks. You're a student. I don't rely on my family's income. So I have to pay rent, bills all on my own," said a UC Merced student.

Cardoso is a senior and works at the Wilderness Education Center at UC Merced which is run by National Park Service.

She's not working during the shutdown and since she's hoping to be a park ranger after she graduates, she's now worried about her future.

"I dedicated two years to the program. Did the internship in Yosemite, now I'm working for the park. I was hoping to continue that on, but because of this it's becoming very difficult," said a UC Merced student.

University officials say they're working on what to do regarding federal monies if the shutdown continues.

"A lot of grants, we have money to take us through the next quarter. Which is 90 days. We have that. What the campus is looking at is that if this extends beyond that, what are our contingency plans," said Charles Nies, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.

The food bank is expecting these calls for help to increase in the next coming weeks.

Food bank officials say another issue is people sometimes don't want to admit they need help, or they don't want to take away help from others.

They encourage any federal employee or anyone impacted by the shutdown to contact them.
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