Hope Church's food pantry will open an extra day to serve workers affected by the partial federal government shutdown, which stretches into its 33rd day Wednesday.
Linaya Heatherly, director of the Hope Community Care Center and Food Pantry, said the pantry will open from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday specifically for those who have been affected by the shutdown. Friday will mark the second time affected workers miss a paycheck.
"It is a tough time, especially when we're coming toward the end of the month where people have big payments due the first of the month," she said. "Food is one of those things you need to have for your family."
Located in the Grand Cities Mall, the pantry typically opens Wednesdays and Thursdays for the first three weeks of the month. The center serves families who meet certain income guidelines, Heatherly said.
However, after hearing concerns from several community members, the pantry's leaders opted to open the center for affected government workers, too.
"We had a couple people reach out on our Facebook page," Heatherly said.
She also heard from a Border Patrol agent who swung by in person to ask about using the pantry.
To access the pantry, workers will need to show a government-issued ID and prove they work for an agency affected by the shutdown, Heatherly said.
"If they can prove they are a federal employee, then we'll let them through," she said.
Heatherly said she plans to allow affected federal workers to come back during the pantry's regular operating days.
"As long as the government shutdown is continuing, (affected workers) could come during any of the open times during the first three weeks, as well," she said.
Across the country, 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are working without pay.
There are 9,400 federal workers in North Dakota. Of those, nearly 2,000 have been affected by the shutdown, according to Job Service North Dakota, citing data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Opened in early December 2018, the pantry provides a variety of staples, such as produce and bread. The center also offers snacks, baked goods, hygiene products and cleaning supplies. The pantry's food and supplies come from local donations.
Meanwhile, two Minnesota grocery stores - Doug's Supermarket in Warroad and Lake of the Woods Foods in Baudette - have rolled out a deferred payment plan for affected federal workers. The stores will offer an "interest-free, deferred payment charge account" for any government employee who has been affected by the shutdown. Those who want to take part need to fill out a one-page application, according to a Jan. 21 letter to federal workers in the area.
"We are sympathetic to the hardship our furloughed employees are going through," wrote store owner Chuck Lindner in the letter. "I don't believe buying groceries should be one of those concerns."