Elgin-area food pantries call out to unpaid government workers
Five Elgin-area pantries are inviting federal workers, contractors and subcontractors who aren't getting paid during the partial government shutdown to use their services.
The offer applies to residents of Elgin, South Elgin, East Dundee and West Dundee, said Robert Langlois, board chairman for the Elgin Cooperative Ministry. The five pantries are: Food for Greater Elgin in Elgin, All Peoples Interfaith Food Pantry in Elgin, Centro de Informacion in Elgin, South Elgin Food Pantry in South Elgin and Bethesda Church of God in Elgin.
Those interested should check elgincoopministry.com/food-pantries for times and locations. The website will be updated to show Bethesda Church of God is open Sundays, Langlois said. Together, the pantries provide "fresh, nutritious food" every day of the week, he said.
About 800,000 federal workers, including an estimated 7,500 in Illinois, have been furloughed or working without pay since the shutdown started Dec. 22. The shutdown stems from President Donald Trump's demand for $5.6 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats' refusal to fund it.
Food for Greater Elgin Executive Director Shelia Jackson said that two federal employees used the pantry's services by Wednesday.
One was an employee of the Transportation Security Administration who brought a letter written by his employer addressed "To Whom It May Concern" and stating workers aren't getting paid, Langlois said.
People have to bring documentation to the pantries, he said.
Food for Greater Elgin, where clients use a shopping cart and choose their own food, is asking people for a driver's license or state ID, a recent bill showing a local address, a federal ID or current proof of employment, and proof they are not getting paid, such as a zero-dollar pay stub or letter from their federal employer, he said.
The other four pantries only require clients to bring a federal ID and proof they are not getting paid, Langlois said.
Federal contractors typically have a federal ID, but it might be difficult for subcontractors to meet the documentation requirements, Langlois acknowledged. People need not worry, he said. "Everybody (from the food pantries) has pledged to be helpful to these people ... and accommodating and reasonable."
Soup kitchens also are available to federal workers and anyone else in need, no ID required, Langlois said. "There's no questions. Everybody gets fed," he said. For times and locations visit elgincoopministry.com/soup-kettles.
Mayor David Kaptain said residents also can call 311 to get guidance from city staff members.