Amid shutdown, Colorado eatery offers free food to unpaid government workers
A restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colo., is offering free food to federal workers who have gone unpaid because of the U.S. government shutdown.
“They’re dedicated public service employees… and we want to help them,” Richard Skorman, who co-owns Poor Richard’s Restaurant, told CTV News Channel. “We’ve had many hundreds of people and their families that take us up on it, so it’s been very gratifying.”
The U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22 over the Democrat-controlled Congress’ refusal to fund President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall. Since then, hundreds of thousands of government workers have gone unpaid.
“Many of them aren’t high-paid employees,” Skorman said. “They work at the airport, they work at the federal prison, they work at the food stamp office. And so not knowing if they’re going to get a paycheque or having to work, and hence not being able to go out and get money in other ways, is very difficult.”
This is not the first time that the restaurant, which Skorman has co-owned since the early 1990s, has fed federal employees during a government shutdown.
“It’s terrible for these families,” Skorman said. “There are many of them (who) aren’t sure if they’re going to be able to make their rent next month.”
The restaurant has spread the word through Facebook and local media. Affected workers, Skorman says, have been “humbled” and are “appreciative” by the gesture.
“And then the other good news is that many of our customers are giving us money to help us replace the cost for giving free food,” he added. “So it’s a community event and everybody’s really excited about trying to help.”
Asked about the shutdown itself, Skorman says that he’s “frustrated” by it.
“It’s bad government -- it really is,” he explained. “It’s just not pleasant to watch when you’re at the local level. You just wish that they would get it together and stop fighting about these things.”
With Trump threatening to keep the shutdown going for months if he does not receive billions of dollars for his wall, there is currently no end in sight for the political impasse. And as long as the shutdown lasts, Skorman vows to keep feeding affected workers.
“We’re going to be here as long as they’re hurting,” he said. “The community is really stepping up to help us with this and so we’re going to keep doing it. It feels good, it’s really what local businesses should be doing and I hope that business do this all around the country.”