Coast Guard families impacted by shutdown use pop-up food pantry in Boston

Coast Guard families impacted by shutdown use pop-up food pantry in Boston

The families of hundreds of Coast Guard members took advantage of a pop-up food pantry in Boston this week amid the partial government shutdown.

The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that is working without pay, so the food pantry was set up just for them.

NPR reports that nearly 400 families utilized the food pantry in Boston this week, established by the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation. The nearly 30,000 pounds of food for the families was all free.

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Don Cox, president of the foundation, told NPR that families need food and supplies the most and some necessities are the hardest and most expensive to buy.

"We've been hit hard with the baby food, the diapers. I mean it's just a tidal wave," he said.

The shutdown has furloughed an estimated 800,000 federal workers, with roughly 8,000 coming from the Coast Guard in Massachusetts.

Jenny James, wife of a guardsman and mother of two, said she is only buying necessities, so the food pantry allowed her to have some extra food for the future, still not knowing how long the shutdown will last.

"It's very comforting to know a little weight lifted off of me having to worry about putting food on the table," she said. "Especially when you don't know what the future holds."

This week, the Coast Guard posted a memo online advising service members on how to make ends meet as the shutdown approaches a fourth week.

In the tip-sheet that has since been removed, it encouraged Coast Guard members to hold garage sales or baby-sit to relieve the burden while they go unpaid during the shutdown.

"It's just a horrible thing that we have done to these people," Cox said. "They have families and responsibilities ... and they've been left out there on a ledge. We put them in uniform and we teach them to be proud, and then we put them in a situation like this and it's just criminal. ... I mean this thing just balloons and spirals out of control."