Shutdown Resources: Here's How to Get Help in the DC Area

In D.C., you can get help paying your water bill. In Charles County, Maryland, the school district can help if you can't afford your kids' school lunch. And in Arlington, Virginia, a pet food pantry has opened.

Even as furloughed federal employees get ready to go back to work, some organizations are still offering deals, like free lunches, for D.C. area workers who are owed back pay.

If you're looking for opportunities to help those impacted during the government shutdown, NBC Washington has a list of places to volunteer or donate here.

Here's a running list of available resources. 


Get a Free Lunch: A group of D.C. area co-working spaces are partnering to host and feed recently furloughed federal employees at a different space every day for the week of Jan. 28. Just show up with your government ID and grab a plate starting at 12 p.m. on Monday.

— On Monday, Alley Powered by Verizon (2055 L St. NW, Fourth Floor) and Industrious (4201 Wilson Blvd. Third Floor, Arlington) will serve lunches for government workers.

— On Tuesday, Inclusive Innovation Incubator (2301 Georgia Ave. NW) will serve lunches

— On Wednesday, 1776 (2231 Crystal Dr. #1000, Arlington), MakeOffices (1015 15th St. NW, #600) and Industrious (1 Thomas Circle NW, #700) will serve lunches. 

— On Thursday, The Yard (700 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) will serve lunches.

— On Friday, MindSpace (1301 K St. NW) will serve lunches.

Get a Free Meal:  José Andrés' World Central Kitchen, at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, near the United States Navy Memorial, is set to be open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's serving a "rotating menu of hot meals, sandwiches and salads," a statement from the nonprofit said.

One-Stop Resource Shop: Next door to World Central Kitchen, several businesses and non-profits are partnering to provide resources to federal employees. Martha's Table, the Greater DC Diaper Bank, Pepco, Verizon, AARP, Dr. Bronner's and the International Fund for Animal Welfare are scheduled to participate. The center is scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Help With Baby Supplies: The Northwest Center (2702 Ontario Road NW) offers furloughed workers free diapers, wipes and other necessities for their babies. Call 202-483-7008 to schedule an appointment. 

Help With Groceries: Furloughed workers and contractors who are D.C. residents can visit Bread for the City's Northwest or Southeast centers for a five-day supply of groceries. In addition, the medical clinic at the Northwest Center is currently accepting new patients. Go here for more information, including hours of operation and required documentation needed.

Help Paying Your Water Bill: DC Water said they will work with "any federal worker who may need additional flexibility in paying their bill because of the government shutdown." Extended payment plans are available, as well as a program that helps customers keep water and sewer service on despite financial emergencies. Go to DC Water's website for more information.

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Help Paying Your Gas Bill: Washington Gas is offering flexible payment plans to government employees affected by the shutdown. One plan lets customers spread winter heating bills across the entire year. Payment deferments are possible, as well as access to the Washington Area Fuel Fund for low-income customers. Call 1-844-WASHGAS to discuss your individual situation.

Help Feeding Your Pet: The Humane Rescue Alliance has a Pet Pantry that federal workers who live in D.C. can use to help feed their animals. Go to the HRA website for info.

Unless the partial government shutdown ends by Friday, many federal workers won’t get an expected paycheck. But the bills and expenses continue to pile up. News4's Aimee Cho was there as Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen talked to constituents about how they're coping.


Free Public Transportation: The Maryland Department of Transportation is offering free transit for unpaid federal employees who must still report to work during the shutdown. They can ride for free on MARC, Commuter Bus and BaltimoreLink services such as CityLink, LocalLink, Express BusLink, Light RailLink and Metro SubwayLink. They will need to show their federal government ID.

Free Meals: Free meals are available for all furloughed federal workers at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center (10000 New Hamshire Ave., Silver Spring) on weekdays from noon to 6 p.m.

Help With Groceries: New Life Worship Center (7230 Central Ave., Capitol Heights) will hold a Furlough Relief Market Friday, Jan. 18 from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those affected by the government shutdown who need groceries may "shop" free of charge.

Help Paying Your Water Bill: If WSSC provides your water, there's help available. The water utility announced it is suspending water service shutoffs. Also, a number of programs are available to lower your bill. Go here for more info

Get Meals for Your Kids: A few school districts are offering help with meals:

— Charles County Public Schools is providing a temporary $30 increase in meal credits to help families affected by the shutdown. Learn more here.

— The head of Prince George's County Public Schools announced a new fund to pay for hot meals for students during the shutdown and beyond. The fund aims to cover the cost of 10,000 meals. Go here to learn more, or donate.

— Montgomery County Public Schools are covering meals for students affected by the shutdown through the Dine with Dignity program. Students with negative account balances can get the usual breakfast or lunch for free. Go here for info, or to donate

— Families of St. Mary's County Public Schools that have lost or reduced income due to any change in family circumstances, including the shutdown, may immediately apply for their children to receive free or reduced-price meals. The application for the FARMs program is available online; copies are also available in each school. Call 301-475-4256 ext. 5 with any questions. 

Get Temporary Employment: Some school districts are offering short- and long-term employment opportunities.

— Prince George’s County Public Schools is looking to expedite hiring of federal employees who have been furloughed to fill positions as substitute teachers and substitute paraprofessionals. The next PGCPS hiring event is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 25. Go here for more information on applying.

Help for Federal Employees Who Work at BWI Marshall Airport: The 600+ federal employees who work at BWI Marshall Airport can receive discounts on meals, free chair massages, free grocery items and more. Concession participants include Subway, Jamba Juice, Pinkberry and more. The airport is also hosting a food drive for affected workers. Those who want to donate to the food drive can bring non-perishable items to the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and the lower level of the BWI Marshall Airport.

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Get Temporary Employment: 

— Stafford County Public Schools will host a Pop Up Substitute Workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to noon at 31 Stafford Ave. in Stafford for  furloughed federal workers. The workshop is open to anyone 18 or older with a high school diploma or equivalent. The school system needs substitutes for teachers, paraprofessionals and nurses (RN required).

Free Class: Furloughed federal employees and contractors can take a free (non-credit) class through Northern Virginia Community College's Workforce and Economic Development Office. They can choose from select Business & Management, IT & Computer Skills, and Professional Development classes. See the list of available classes here. 

Help Paying Your Water Bill: If you're a furloughed federal employee who lives in Arlington and you're having trouble paying your water bill, there's help available. The county is allowing extended payments without late fees. For info, go here or call 703-228-6570.

Help From Falls Church Schools: Falls Church City Public Schools is offering help paying for school lunches, tuition and day care. School social workers are available to families as well. Go here for info

Help Feeding Your Pet: The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has opened a pet food pantry for government workers who need help and live in Arlington County or the City of Falls Church. People who request help need to show government ID. Go to AWLA's website for info.

“We hear stories of people who come in and say they’ve fed their children, they’ve fed their pets and now they don’t have anything to eat. That’s where we want to step in,” the head of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington said. News4’s David Culver shows a pet food bank that’s helping government workers as the partial shutdown drags...

Help With Food in Alexandria: Visit Alexandria's Food Assistance and Other Resources page for information about food assistance resources in Alexandria, including a directory of free programs. 

Help From Alexandria Schools: You can apply online or download an application to apply for free or reduced-price lunches for students. Parents or guardians not receiving income must indicate their income as zero, "0" or leave the field blank. If your household previously applied and was denied during this school year, you must submit documentation, such as proof indicating you are affected by the government shutdown or recent pay stubs. For more information, contact ACPS School Nutrition Services at 703-619-8407.

Get Temporary Employment: A few school districts are offering short- and long-term employment opportunities.

— Falls Church City Public Schools is looking to hire furloughed federal employees as substitute teachers and bus drivers. Interested candidates should contact Amy Hall at 703-248-5600.

— Prince William County Public Schools is encouraging furloughed employees to work for PWCS in either part-time or full-time capacities as substitute teachers or school bus drivers. Go here for more information on applying.

The National Mall appeared sparse Saturday during the second weekend of the partial government shutdown. News4's Darcy Spencer reports.

In addition to resources for paying your bills or helping your family, many freebies and discounts are available at restaurants, museums and music venues in the D.C. area. Go here to see the running list.

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