Food Bank helps Coast Guard families in Elizabeth City affected by shutdown


ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — A local food bank is stepping up to help Coast Guard families amid the partial government shutdown.

WAVY’s Kara Dixon visited the Food Bank of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City to get a look at their effort to help families. 

NBC News reports 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard members missed their scheduled paycheck on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military working without pay during the shutdown.

A short-term solution gave members, reservists and retirees of the Coast Guard the remainder of their pay for December. The solution did not extend to the Jan. 15 pay period, however.

The Food Bank of the Albemarle added an extra day for its food pantry to help those who might be affected.

MORE: Elizabeth City eatery offers discount for Coast Guard families

MORE: ‘Gubment Shutdown Blues’: Shutdown strikes chord with Coast Guard vet Bobby ‘BlackHat’

It opened last Wednesday.

“We’ve definitely seen some increase,” said Brian Gray, who works for the food bank.

Gray says the pantry is normally open Tuesday and Friday, but around six families with a total of 20 people came last Wednesday and expect more as the shutdown continues.

Gray believes that if it does, families won’t be the only ones affected. The food bank gets 20 percent of its food from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“The food we have ordered, we’ve already received but we can’t order any new orders,” he said.

The food bank covers 15 counties and works with around 100 partner agencies in Northeast North Carolina.

Gray says people can help by hosting food drives or donating financially to help.

“For every dollar, we can provide approximately four meals to someone in need. It really goes a long way,” he said.

But others in the community are giving back in a different way.

“We our volunteering our time packing boxes because we are currently furloughed government employees,” said Shauna McLarney, who is a civilian contractor at Coast Guard Base-Elizabeth City.

McLarney is a single parent.

“(I’m) Soley responsible for my three kids so being out of work without a paycheck has been rather devastating,” she said.

McLarney, who was joined with other co-workers, said they’re volunteering to help get their minds of the shutdown and to be role models for their families.

“I told them and have always told them that when you feel the greatest need is when you should serve other people’s needs,” she said.

Gray says it’s amazing seeing people like McLarney come out to help when they’re also in need.

“A lot of people have mentioned they have this time and they want to give service back to the community,” he said.

The food pantry is open Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. until the shutdown is over.

Gray says families are welcome to come to the pantry to get help or advice for other resources.

You can also visit the food bank’s website to find a pantry located to you.

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