(Gray News) – Things are getting real for federal workers who are missing their first paychecks as a partial government shutdown drags on.
Some businesses, and at least one TV celebrity, are offering them a little help – things like free meals, discounts to deferred payments and zero- and low-interest loans.
When the shutdown began, roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying home without pay.
Government contractors, who have been placed indefinitely on unpaid leave, don't get compensated for lost hours.
So, lots of folks need help.
Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel is hiring one federal worker per night until the shutdown is over.
In Falls Church, VA, outside Washington, DC, a school district is planning a hiring fair for furloughed federal employees interested in working as substitute teachers.
In Massachusetts, a private group has stepped up to ensure that those working at local Coast Guard stations have access to food and clothing during the shutdown.
Don Cox, president of the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation Inc., said the nonprofit group has opened up what he calls “empowerment centers” at Coast Guard stations in Boston and Providence, RI.
The group is helping feed 500 to 600 families a day during the shutdown, about double the typical demand, Cox said. He said he's happy to help but angry that those working on some military bases aren't getting paid.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, said his staff would offer free breakfasts and lunches to unpaid federal workers at his district office in suburban Denver starting Friday.
In Colorado Springs, Poor Richard’s Downtown is giving away free meals to government workers and their families.
Options for federal employees vary from city to city.