Federal workers furloughed on Space Coast

- The effects of the government shut down are being felt at lunch, at dinner, thousands of NASA and space employees are trying to figure out how to put food on the table.

For many, the official letter that shows they’re on furlough, is a way to get some help. The Hummingbird Food Pantry in Titusville is bustling. Founder Regina Stanford says she’s seeing families whose livelihood is tied to the space sector -- they are barely scraping by and they’re in need of basic groceries.

“They are first-time visitors to our pantry,” Stanford said.

Stanford personally served four government employees today. Her volunteers helped others. Friday would normally have been a payday, but 800,000 federal employees didn't get their checks.

“And most people live paycheck to paycheck, they have bills, those bills have to get paid, so connecting with a food pantry is actually a good idea, it’s not recommended that you take out a loan or put food on a credit card,” Stanford said.

Meanwhile, at Zarrella’s Italian and Wood Fire Pizza, starting Friday there’s a kind of a furlough special. Owner John Zarella says since December 22, when the shutdown, the catering gigs for the space sector have stopped. The familiar faces of space employees at lunch time have dwindled.

“Of course, certainly we notice the ones who don’t come in. For anybody with a government ID who is furloughed, you can come and get a free meatball salad, it’s the least we can do,” Zarella said.

Back at the food pantry, Stanford says she wants to get the word out this is an option for government employees, she says there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

“We have a community that loves each other if you put love first you’re going to be OK,” Stanford said.

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