Providing Assistance

Distribution Held For Furloughed Workers Amid Shutdown

Chautauqua County RSVP volunteer Jack Kachermeyer pictured Wednesday at the Salvation Army in Jamestown for a special food distribution. More than 120 area families were served during the distribution. P-J photos by Eric Tichy

More than 120 area families — some impacted by the federal government shutdown — received assistance through a special food distribution by the Food Bank of WNY and held at the Salvation Army in Jamestown. It was one of five such distributions held Wednesday in the Southern Tier.

In Jamestown, a line formed behind the Salvation Army prior to the 10 a.m. distribution scheduled to last two hours.

Elizabeth Lopez, emergency basic needs supervisor with the Salvation Army, said the event was for furloughed workers and those with self-declared needs. Lopez said some of the 128 families served were out of a job due to the government shutdown.

However, anyone who turned out was given assistance after showing photo identification.

“I think it went very well,” Lopez told The Post-Journal afterward. “We were just contacted last week, so the word hadn’t been out very long. There were quite a lot of people. I think this ended up being a blessing.”

Marla Ryan of the Food Bank of WNY to promote healthy eating options with the food distributed Wednesday. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

The Food Bank of WNY provided more than 9,000 pounds of food for local families including potatoes, spaghetti, dried cherries, black beans, chicken and French fries. More than a dozen volunteers helped hand out the food at the Salvation Army’s 83 S. Main St. location.

“We did make a pretty large dent,” Lopez said of Wednesday’s distribution.

Elyse Burgher, Food Bank of WNY agency and community programs manager, said the goal of the special distribution was to ensure those directly impacted by the prolonged shutdown — currently going on 34 days — had a source to food.

“In the midst of the government shutdown there’s a lot of federal employees that can be just one paycheck away from needing food assistance, so the Food Bank of WNY really wanted to make sure that we are filling that need wherever that may be,” Burgher said.

In addition to Jamestown, distributions were also held in Olean, Lockport, Tonawanda and North Collins.