Just before the Georgia Mountain Food Bank's planned food distribution in Gainesville on Friday, President Trump announced the partial government shutdown would end - at least temporarily. The giveaway went on as planned, however, putting food in the pantries of dozens of families who have found themselves struggling in the last month.
The distribution event, which took place at St. John Baptist Church on Butler Parkway, was designed to assist people who might have been impacted by the 35-day government work stoppage. That included not only federal workers, but employees of other companies that might have suspended work in light of the shutdown.
Stephen Samuel, the Senior Pastor of St. John, said his church has a food ministry that partners with the Georgia Mountain Food Bank on a weekly basis. He said he wasn't sure how many people who received food on Friday were federal government employees, since the food was available with no questions asked. He said there were more people waiting for food than the church usually sees.
"That may be because of the shutdown, but we did publicize this. We wanted to get the word out just in case there may be anyone who may be in need," Samuel said. "The primary thing you have to work to help people with is not to be ashamed - if you need help, you just need help. It makes you realize how close to the edge so many people are...just one or two paychecks away from being hungry."
Federal workers missed two paychecks during the partial government closure. As of Saturday morning, there was no word when workers might be paid. Most will be called back to their jobs on Monday, although many workers - TSA agents, for example - have been on the job, working without pay.