Chefs step up to feed furloughed workers

If you’ve been paying attention to US news reports, you will know that our federal government has partially shut down over a funding dispute between Congress and the President. There is an old African saying that seems appropriate to this situation: “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” In this case, the grass is the federal workforce, who are affected by the lapse in funding. Just over 400,000 workers are at home without pay and no guarantee that they will be paid for this unplanned time off, while a similar number are required to work without being paid until after the shutdown ends. 

Eating with Uncle Sam

With no end to the shutdown in sight, workers are scrambling to make arrangements to pay mortgages, rent, childcare, and other expenses. Since money is tight, many workers are cutting expenses wherever possible, including eating out at restaurants. But in some areas these workers can afford to visit restaurants, as several chefs are offering free food for government workers impacted by the shutdown

You will not be surprised to learn that chef José Andrés is among those providing free food at his restaurants in the DC area, home to a considerable number of government employees. The offers are not limited to Washington, however. Chefs from Denver, Colorado to New Orleans, Louisiana are also providing meals to federal workers and their families. Neal Brown, a restaurateur in Indianapolis, Indiana, said that federal employees have taken him up on the deal. In addition, he has been overwhelmed with offers of support from restaurant patrons who want to contribute to the effort. One person wanted to know if they could chip in for wine for affected workers. Brown said “I thought, wine makes people happy, so yeah, it’s been phenomenal.”

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