CAPSB Helps with Food, Resources for Govt Workers
By Dianne Anderson
Unpaid federal employees are temporarily back to work, but still unclear on when they will receive their back pay, or how to keep the lights on, or put food on the table to survive the next potential Trump shutdown.
To help impacted local workers, Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County has teamed up with Bruce Atlas, Chief Operating Officer at Ontario International Airport Authority for a special food distribution, along with several other services to support employees in these hard times.
Through the CAPSB family development program, federal employees at Ontario Airport received badly needed services, including rental assistance, utility assistance through the HEAP program, gas assistance, and gift cards for special needs.
Patricia Nickols-Butler, CEO of the CAPSB, said that she and Bruce Atlas had been communicating about how best to help the 250 impacted employees.
“That is who we hope to assist,” she said. “He’s been so accommodating and willing to assist us in any way to make this happen. We appreciate partnering with the airport to be able to support those employees.”
The timing was perfect to make contact with Atlas, who she met at a recent MLK breakfast event. They spoke about how best to meet the need for the airport employees, and started making arrangements for getting the distribution ready.
The event was held on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“It’s the least we can do. We’re hoping it will be beneficial in some way to those individuals until they can get their paycheck,” she said. “We’re trying to address the impact for them being without pay for two paychecks.”
She said those who need help are encouraged to visit their CAP partner agencies, where food is distributed every month, year-round, throughout the county.
“They’re always welcome,” Nickols-Butler said. “Anyone that qualifies and in need, you self-certify for the food. We’re happy with some of our partner agencies to serve those individuals.”
Bruce Atlas said their 250 federal employees at the Ontario Airport included Transportation Security Administration TSA, Federal Aviation Administration, and the FBI. The event was held in front of the airport office building, which was used to stage the distribution, allowing agents to come in and freely shop for what they needed.
Atlas said 32 pallets of food was provided, and that Nickols Butler and CAPSB has extended a tremendous show of support and effort.
“She’s been a rock star in this entire thing. My hat’s off to her,” he said.
Federal workers have been seriously impacted. Recently on the news, he saw one agent talk of having only $1.34 left in her bank account.
“A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. They’re dependent on that check to survive,” he said. “I hear all the time – use your credit cards, but not everyone is in that [place].”
Two weeks after the shutdown, Atlas said they also held a barbecue at the terminal. Other individuals and businesses came out to help.
One customer was just flying through and had bought all the cookies at the terminals to bring back to the checkpoint for the agents. Another customer said she didn’t have a lot of money, but bought bouquets of flowers for all of the agents at the terminals.
People have gravitated to help, but the end of the government shutdown is only temporary. “In three weeks, no one knows what’s going to happen after,” he said. Last month, Trump had stated that the shutdown could go on for months or even years.
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) led 22 Democrats in introducing the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act. It calls for federal protection of federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.
“Right now there are 800,000 federal workers who’ve been without pay for almost three weeks. Many are now being forced to drain savings or are unable to pay for rent, mortgage payments, student loans, childcare, food and transportation. Federal workers don’t deserve this, and should be protected from the harmful impact of President Trump’s shutdown,” said Senator Corey Booker (D-N.J.) in a statement.