Boulder County Businesses, Organizations Step Up to Help Families Impacted by Federal Shutdown
More discounts, deals
While the shutdown is in effect, furloughed workers (with valid federal ID) also can receive freebies, deals and discounts at the following Boulder County businesses.
Walnut Cafe , 3073 Walnut St., and South Side Walnut Cafe, 673 S. Broadway — free breakfasts
Boulder Village Shopping Center , 2525 Arapahoe Ave.:
• Kumon — 50 percent offmonthly tuition
• Vero Boulder — 15 percent discount
• CrossFit Sanitas — free workouts Thursdays and Saturdays
• Le French Cafe — free sweet or savory crepes
• Brass Bed Fine Linens & Furnishings — 15 percent discount
• Vitality Bowls— $2 off any bowl or smoothie
Big Red F will be offering free lunch Monday through Friday starting Monday at the following Boulder County restaurants:
• The Post Brewing Co. (all locations)
• Centro Mexican Kitchen , 950 Pearl St., Boulder
• West End Tavern , 926 Pear; St., Boulder
• Zolo Southwestern Grill , Boulder Village Shopping Center
Boulder County businesses are extending a helping hand to those affected by the ongoing federal shutdown.
The spark of kindness is kindling more fires, inspiring area businesses to find ways to help unpaid federal workers.
Businesses are offering free meals, discounts and late fee waivers to ease the pain for workers not getting their paychecks.
Elevations Credit Union is allowing its members to skip loan payments while the shutdown is in effect.
Local food banks are providing, in addition to groceries, emotional support to clients nervous about their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly known as food stamps. They also are relying on community support to get the word out to furloughed workers that help is available.
The shutdown is getting people to think and act together to support others to get through the tough times, said Dennis Paul, vice president of business and community development at Elevations, which on Dec. 21 launched a program to help its members. The program enables members to delay making loan payments and to get an interest-free loan equal to their monthly pay, Paul said.
“It was the right thing to do,” he said of the program, adding that as a cooperative, Elevations is invested in its membership, and it does well when its members thrive.
A similar sentiment guided Zuned Khan earlier this week when he started a campaign on Facebook to offer free meals to furloughed federal employees at his restaurant Curry ‘N’ Kebob, 3050 28th St. in Boulder.
“I know what hunger is. I’m from Bangladesh, a poor country. I want to help,” Khan said. “God gave me enough.”
Khan said he will go on feeding furloughed employees until the shutdown ends. “I don’t care if it means spending my last penny,” he said.
Years ago, Khan worked as a federal civilian employee at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. He said he understands the anguish of workers living without a paycheck. The shutdown is not their fault, but they have to bear the brunt of it, he said.
Khan’s social media post inspired Stephen Klein, founder and CEO of CommonGood I.T. A longtime customer of Curry ‘N’ Kebob, he had never met Khan and went to the restaurant with a friend Friday to express his support for Khan’s efforts. His business also is providing free computer help to furloughed workers.
“It inspires me when people do something selfless,” Klein said.
Saamyog Dahal, a worker at Curry ‘N’ Kebob, said he served free meals to two federal employees during lunch on Friday.
“They had chicken masala. They loved it,” he said. As the word gets around, he expects more people to show up for free meals.
To receive a free meal, all workers need to do is bring their federal IDs to the restaurant.
Miguel Vazquez, co-owner and executive chef at Aperitivo in Boulder and El Mercado in Longmont , also was moved by the plight of federal workers and their families.
“Last week we decided to feed one family a day at Aperitivo,” he said.
Then the restaurant began receiving more calls, so Vazquez included his Longmont restaurant El Mercado in offering free meals to a family every day. The restaurants will continue the program until the federal workers return to work, he said.
Workers need to make a reservation in advance, Vazquez said.
The shutdown is starting to have the makings of a crisis, said Riley Bright, executive director of Harvest of Hope Pantry in Boulder. In past two weeks, the food pantry has heard from anxious clients worried if their SNAP benefits are going to continue, she said.
On average Harvest of Hope serves 140 clients a day. Bright said she plans to track if the number of clients goes up in the coming weeks.
“Our hope is that people will know we’re here to provide them with food should they need the assistance. Best-case scenario, the government opens and both government employees and people receiving benefits won’t experience food insecurity. Worst-case scenario, people are unable to meet their basic needs, and in that case, we want folks to know we’re here.” she said.
Julia McGee, director of communications at Community Food Share in Louisville, said her organization is geared up to meet the food security challenges in Boulder and Broomfield counties.
Community Food Share serves more than 15,000 individuals annually through its food distribution programs.
“On average, 750 households access our programs each week,” McGee said.
“The biggest hurdle is reaching those affected, especially because it’s possible that many of the people who are impacted by the shutdown have never accessed food assistance before. We want to tell them, we’re here to help.”
People might feel overwhelmed and anxious about using the free service if they haven’t accessed it before, she said, but McGee wants to get the word out that “it’s not a scary thing. They’re welcome.”
Pratik Joshi: 303-684-5310, firstname.lastname@example.org