Food banks, passengers helping unpaid TSA workers during shutdown

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Twenty-eight days into the government shutdown means 28 days without pay for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. But for the 450 TSA workers at Oakland International Airport, help is on the way from local food banks and also some passengers.

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There's nothing unusual about workers putting together food bundles at the Alameda County Community Food Bank for those in need.
What was unusual - until this week - was having those bundles delivered to Oakland International Airport for TSA agents who haven't seen a paycheck in nearly a month.

"Our job is make sure that people have the nutrition they need to come to work and make sure they are keeping our airports safe," according to Michael Altfest of the Alameda County Food Bank.

The food bank has made three deliveries to the airport this week. Friday's total -- 100 bags of food, nearly 700 pounds of peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce and fresh fruit. For workers with families to feed, money for food is becoming scarce. Everyone is affected, including the airport's TSA chief.

"I am and so is the TSA administrator himself," said David Von Damm, security chief at Oakland International Airport.

He says the airlines and airline passengers have all chipped in.

RELATED: Struggling Bay Area Coast Guard families receive food donations during government shutdown

"The outreach has been phenomenal," said Von Damm. "Our airlines partners here at the airport have all stepped up in their own way - free lunches, recognition signage even passengers are coming through."

The food bank has even placed donation barrels in the terminal for people who would like to drop off food. Airline passenger Yoshiko Kennedy of Oakland says it shouldn't have to be this way.

"I think that's a sad, sad statement and situation," she said. "The federal government does not have to be in this position. Open it and keep negotiating."

There are other ways to help as well. TSA agents are allowed to accept gift card, with conditions. The cards have to be for a specific store, instead of a cash card good anywhere. Also, the TSA says if you drop them off at the airport, you have to ask for a TSA supervisor or manager, who will distribute them to workers.

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