LaToya Brown knows the effects of the ongoing partial government shutdown all too well. Her husband is one of thousands of federal workers required to work without pay during the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history.
“I always joke with him saying, ‘Your income is the cake.’ We pay all of our bills with his income. My income is the icing. So I told him we need to spread the icing really, really thin right now," Brown said.
Brown’s husband is deemed an essential worker and commutes from Fredericksburg to Alexandria along I-95, spending money on gas that he isn’t getting back.
Brown currently works at the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, a food distribution center in Stafford County, Virginia, where she is leading the effort to feed others while also cutting back on spending and making ends meet in her own home.
The food bank has opened its doors for the first time as a direct food pick-up location for families affected by the partial shutdown.
Brown is working to set up discreet pick-up locations for any furloughed federal workers who are intimidated or ashamed to use the food bank's services.
“In those times when we have to live a little lean, you just have to make use of the resources that you have.”
Brown said she’s being open and honest with her own family about their financial constraints while her husband is missing paychecks. She said she has told her son to cut spending in college and rely on dining hall food.
“It’s chatter going on at campus because a lot of his friends have parents who work for the federal government,” Brown said.
But she wholeheartedly believes that pride should not stop families from getting help.
“We’re not here to judge anyone,” Brown said. “We’re concerned about the need right now.”