• Unique food center helping Coast Guardsmen without pay amid government shutdown

    By: Chris Flanagan

    Updated:

    BOURNE, Mass. - As the partial government shutdown continues, the effects are being felt particularly hard on Cape Cod. Members of the Coast Guard are bracing to miss their next paycheck and many are trying to stay afloat thanks to a unique help center. 

    Jenny James is food shopping, but not at the supermarket. To help Coast Guard families deal with the high cost of living on the Cape, an "empowerment center" was established at Joint Base Cape Cod. 

    "We're lucky because this opened up on base and we can come daily if we need to get groceries that we need," said James, whose husband serves in the Coast Guard. 

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    The converted community room provides food for free.

    "It's great because it helps with some food bills and able to get a few things," said Sarah Merry.

    Don Cox, the president of the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation which runs the center, says they typically see about 200 families per month, but due to the shutdown, it's now 200 per day.

    Last week alone, they supplied 52,000 pounds of food to families and he expects that number to rise. 

    "So this way they're getting their protein, they're getting their produce, they're getting their dairy, they're getting their bread. We know they're getting everything they need to take care of their families," said Cox. 

    It's not just food. The empowerment center also has a baby pantry with everything from toys and clothes to medicine.

    "This stuff here is gold. You go to CVS or Walgreens or one of those places you got to buy two or three of these items you're talking $30-$40. They can come here and it's theirs for nothing," said Cox. 

    The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military not being paid during the shutdown since they fall under Homeland Security and not Department of Defense. 

    Sarah Merry and her family are stocking up as they brace to miss their next paycheck on Jan. 15. 

    "Every little bit helps with just bills and getting ready because who knows how long the shutdown will last for," said Merry.

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