Federal workers across the nation are taking a temporary sigh of relief as the government reopens for three weeks during negotiations over security along the southern border.
But even with the shutdown on pause, there is still a lingering question of when the roughly 800,000 federal workers nationwide affected by the shutdown will get paid.
Since the shutdown began, dozens of businesses and organizations throughout the St. Louis region have been working to ease the burden for workers and their families, and many say they’ll keep helping.
Steve Smith, the owner of the restaurant and bar The Royale Food & Spirits, said he will continue to offer free lunches daily to federal employees and contractors until they start getting their paychecks.
“We’re throwing in a little bit of extra support here where we can in order to help take that pressure off a little bit and make them feel human,” Smith said, “and make them feel who they are; that they are worth something.”
So far the reaction has been positive, Smith noted. He said federal workers and contractors just need to bring is their government ID to take part in the deal.
For the past two weeks, the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis has delivered 700 lunches to TSA workers and members of the U.S. Coast Guard. Adil Imdad, the chairman of social services at the foundation, said his organization wanted to pay it forward.
“The federal government plays a big role in giving us security and serving the people’s needs and making all the functions run smoothly,” Imdad said. “So basically, for us, this is a small token of thanks. But it just goes a long way of acknowledging and recognizing their services to the whole communities.”
The Gateway Region YMCA in Missouri and Illinois will also continue to honor its promise to help furloughed federal employees at its 24 branches. The nonprofit is waiving its February membership dues for members as well as offering a free month of membership for non members as well.
Jared Beard, executive vice president and COO with the Gateway Region YMCA, said they wanted to give back to the community.
“When we were thinking about it, it wasn’t really just about our current members, but just community as a whole,” Beard said. “And people that might need a place for their children to play, and maybe a place for them to have respite and find something for them to do that takes their mind just off the stress of the situation.”
The YMCA, The Royale Food & Spirits and the Islamic Foundation join a growing list of restaurants, businesses and organizations extending a helping hand. Imo’s Pizza, Crown Candy and Dapper Donuts have already provided lunch to TSA workers. These businesses also have extended help to furloughed federal employees.
- Purina is providing pet owners litter donation and pet food to its 47 Purina Shelter Champion partners and national pet-food distribution partner (Rescue Bank).
- St. Louis Diaper Bank organized a resource fair with local businesses last week. The organization also distributes diapers weekly to families in need.
- The Demetrious Johnson Foundation is donating free gas to government employees every Sunday until the shutdown ends. The next gas fill up is Jan. 27 at the Phillips 66 gas station on 3700 Union Blvd. at 11 a.m.
- Yapi Mediterranean Subs and Sandwiches provided free lunch to government employees.
- St. Louis Treasurer’s Office is working with area banks to offer loans to families affected by it.
- Tripe City provided free lunch for government workers.
- Pastaria STL will continue to offer a free meal to federal workers until they are paid.
The government shutdown lasted 35 days, the longest in U.S. history. President Trump has said negotiations over border security will go until Feb. 15, and if there is no agreement, a second shutdown could take place.
Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011