Local charities seeing increase of federal employees asking for assistance amidst government shutdown

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A growing number of federal employees not getting a paycheck are turning to local charities for help.

Many are looking for a way to put food on the table for their families.

"We have about 20,000 people here in the Valley who are federal employees and a significant number of those are directly impacted by the shutdown. So we are seeing an increase in lines at our agencies," said Andy Souza, Central California Food Bank, CEO.

He said only a few federal employees asked for assistance when the first paycheck was missed but as the shutdown continues he expects that number to increase fast.

Wednesday morning Central California Food Bank staff and volunteers packed up over 200 boxes of food that will be handed out to federal employees of the Federal Correctional Institution, Mendota on Thursday.

Another distribution will take place at the IRS Center in the next week.

Souza said several federal agencies have asked about where employees can get help since this can be an overwhelming experience.

"You can usually tell who has not been in our lines before. It is a new experience for them. So they really aren't sure how this process works but we are seeing a lot of single-parent families," said Souza.

Central California Food Bank works with 220 agencies that distribute food every day to families in need throughout the Valley, including Catholic Charities.

That staff immediately began making adjustments to certain criteria for those who need assistance.

"We understand when these things happen we can't always follow a certain mold. So we meet as a team, we tried to figure out how we can best assist these families," said Ashlee Wolf, Catholic Charities, Director of Development.

She said Catholic Charities helps out 120 families each day, on Tuesday 10 federal employees came by for help.

"We just want to be able to be here for whoever needs our help and we don't want to turn anybody away," said Wolf.
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