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January 24, 2019 | Jesse Dougherty, The Washington Post

The government shutdown that started Dec. 22 dragged along Thursday, and the local professional baseball team is again looking to lighten the burden on furloughed federal employees. The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation announced a $100,000 donation to the Capital Area Food Bank and is encouraging others to follow their lead, nothing that “every dollar will help our neighbors experiencing sudden financial hardship.”

The Capital Area Food Bank opened five, free pop-up markets earlier in January aimed to provide produce and groceries for the federal workers furloughed during the government shutdown. One of the locations is in Alexandria, three are in Maryland and the third is in the District. The Dream Foundation’s donation is “to meet rising demand in the D.C. region from government workers, contractors, and social services recipients not able to afford adequate food at this time,” according to a page on the team’s official site. The donations, the page continues, “will allow the CAFB to continue and expand its ‘pop up’ markets around the region and deliver additional food to its network of 450 community-based food pantries in the metro area.”

In a CNBC television interview Thursday morning, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked to discuss federal workers leaning on food banks during the shutdown. Ross’s response — “I know they are, and I don’t really quite understand why” — sparked outrage on social media. Around 800,000 furloughed federal employees are scheduled to miss their second consecutive paycheck this week if the government does not reopen.

This is the second measure the Nationals have taken to aid federal workers during the shutdown, after announcing on Jan. 7 that employees or spouses of employees of federal agencies affected could start postponing monthly ticket payments.

“We realize that many of our fans are facing challenges due to the ongoing federal government shutdown,” read a Jan. 7 email distributed by the team. “For those of you who are employed by federal agencies impacted by the shutdown, we want to make sure that your NATS PLUS plan isn’t adding to your stress.”

The Nationals Dream Foundation hopes it can help alleviate a bit of stress in another way.


The Washington Post |  Image by Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg

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