When the federal government shut down for five weeks earlier this year, an estimated 40,000 federal workers in the Chicago area missed paychecks. Many of them faced food insecurity for the first time in their lives.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository’s response to the federal shutdown included delivering more than 1,000 boxes of food to federal workers.

On a cold January morning before the sun was up, a Greater Chicago Food Depository truck backed up to a loading dock at offices for Transportation Security Administration workers at Midway International Airport.

Food Depository staff and TSA workers then unloaded more than 200 boxes of food – rice, spaghetti, canned fruits and vegetables, and more – as well as fresh produce. It was just the beginning of a busy week in our response to the shutdown, which increased hunger in our communities.

“It helps us out tremendously. You have individuals who initially had a hard time accepting donations. Now they realize their pride has to be overlooked. It’s also bringing a lot of us together.”

Darrell English, TSA officer at Midway International Airport

The Food Depository delivered directly to federal workers, distributing 1,295 boxes of food to TSA workers at Midway and O’Hare International Airports, workers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Coast Guard service members

During the government shutdown earlier this year, an estimated 40,000 federal workers in the Chicago area missed paychecks.

For the first time in its 40-year history, the Food Depository delivered food directly to federal workers, distributing 1,295 boxes of food to TSA workers at Midway and O’Hare International Airports, workers with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Coast Guard service members. We also urged any federal workers or contractors needing food assistance to visit any food pantry or mobile distribution in our vast Cook County network.

“It helps us out tremendously. You have individuals who initially had a hard time accepting donations. Now they realize their pride has to be overlooked. It’s also bringing a lot of us together,” said Darrell English, who worked as a Transportation Security Administration officer at Midway International Airport for 14 years.

During the shutdown, English was furloughed and, like many of his colleagues, had to make tough decisions on how to pay his bills.

Before the shutdown was temporarily halted, English said he wasn’t sure how he was going to pay rent. He also applied for federal food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

We’re grateful to Jewel-Osco and other corporate and foundation partners that stepped up in support of the Food Depository’s response, including Belgravia Group, Chicago Community Trust and Tyson Foods, among others.

We’re also tremendously thankful for our donors, who ensure we’re able to respond in times of crisis.

We’re proud of our response in helping the federal workers and grateful to our supporters who stepped up to help their neighbors in need.