Some Tallahassee TSA agents forced to rely on food bank due to government shutdown

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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 12, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The partial government shutdown is affecting many people across the Big Bend and South Georgia.

On Friday, several federal agencies in Tallahassee were closed. Offices for the U.S. Department of Forestry and the Internal Revenue Service were locked and empty. Signs posted on the entryways announced that due to the situation, no business would be done.

At Tallahassee International Airport, which partners with at least two government agencies, operations were functioning normally, said interim Aviation Director David Pollard.

"I'm happy and proud of our federal partners as they continue to hang in there," he said.

Pollard said Transportation Security Administration screeners were used for security and Federal Aviation Administration officials were used for air traffic control. Despite some Florida airports being forced to close terminals for days due to large amount of employees calling in sick, TLH was not experiencing any issues.

"At this point, things continue to flow smoothly operationally," he said. "I'm happy to say they're still showing up to work."

However, a representative for some of the federal employees said 21 days into the shutdown, workers were beginning to resort to desperate measures to feed their families.

"Some are getting creative," said Candiano Lozano, who works as a TSA screener. "Some are doing food bank type things. Some are just not going out to eat."

Lozano spoke to WCTV reporter Katie Kaplan on behalf of the 60 TSA employees who work at Tallahassee's airport. He confirmed they had not seen the increase in workers calling in sick, but said the shutdown was beginning to take its toll. The first round of completely empty paychecks came in Friday morning.

"We're highly frustrated with the whole process of the shutdown and it's starting to affect us a little bit morale wise," he said.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend is willing and ready to help any federal employees who need it, said a representative. Those in need are asked to call 211 Big Bend, or to visit the organization's website.

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