Communities Rally to Support Federal Workers

Communities Rally to Support Federal Workers

By Dan Harrang, PHSS, Maui County

     While working on-the-line during the recent Government shutdown I heard many of the traveling public thanking USDA employees for working diligently without pay. Their awareness of our plight -and gratitude for our unending service- is meaningful. There were days when I was personally thanked approximately three times every hour! And while kind words can and do bolster morale they don’t put food on our plates.

     Thankfully, many in our community stepped forward to help feed Federal employees and our families. I first became aware of this when local business Maui Fresh Streatery delivered numerous plate lunches to Federal workers at OGG and began a program at their food truck allowing the public to purchase meals in advance for anyone in need.

Celebrations Catering serves TSA workers

     Another blessing came to OGG on January 23rd when, through the outreach program of Grace Church, USDA LA’s Louis Romero, Fred Asuncion, Ken Nakano, Arlene Richardson, Tracy Silva, Gloria Vierra and Krisan Tamaye came together to facilitate the delivery to USDA Base 1 hundreds of pounds of food, all free to Federal employees. Kula Country Farms provided cases of strawberries, ~100 pounds of Maui onions and many heads of cabbage. Among the shelf-stable foods available were tuna fish, peanut butter, SPAM, beans, canned pork, soups, broths, cereals, ramen and much more. Paper towels, cling-wrap and napkins were also available.

     On Saturday, January 26th Bev Gannon of Hali’imaile General Store sent her Celebrations catering service to OGG and provided a very generous meal to countless airport workers. That day I spoke with Rebecca Schillaci, Chief Operations Officer, who told me the delicious spread was Thanksgiving themed in part by their gratitude for our weeks of continued service, despite not knowing when next we might be paid. Rebecca went on to say about this event, “It really was our pleasure. “This is what makes America great again… being a community.” An abundance of dinner rolls and salad, herbed stuffing, seasoned, roasted pork, turkey (with optional gravy), cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, gourmet cookies, tea and more were provided along with napkins, to-go plates and plastic ware. My next fancy dinner out will support this business which clearly is community-oriented and empathetic to our citizens in their times of need.

  Even other Federal employees were supportive of USDA during this interruption of financial compensation. On Friday the 25th Dennis Nelson and his staff at TSA-Maui surprised us with nearly a dozen Costco pizzas, complemented by boxes of Krispy Kreme for dessert! Receiving a few free meals, like this one, turned out to be a big help in stretching my food budget.

  Additionally the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation in conjunction with Maui County Food Bank held a drive January 31st from8AM to 5PM curbside of the ticket lobby. Volunteers donated rice, canned goods and other nonperishable items to help nourish Federal workers in mind, body and soul.

  Seeing various individuals and organizations come together to assist Federal employees during the recent government shutdown strengthens my faith in our collective good, as well as my confidence in the people of  Maui to weather any storms that come our way. After all, we’re all in this together. Aloha and Mahalo!

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