Lean on (the collective) Me

New Orleans & Company leads food drive for unpaid federal workers


Our society and government run on a few mutually agreed upon constructs – two of which are that citizens will get paid for the work they do, and elected officials will govern to protect the citizens’ interests. In the topsy-turvy present in which we are living, however, neither of those things are happening.

We are currently in the longest partial federal government shutdown in U.S. history. As of Jan. 23, we have gone 33 days in the partial shutdown and that means thousands of workers have missed their paychecks. These are plumbers, administrative assistants, air traffic controllers, national park rangers, baggage handlers, Coast Guard captains, food inspectors, border patrol agents, and, if this stretches into February, workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who administer food stamps to millions of American families.

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The timing of the shutdown is terrible. Holiday bills need to be paid on top of basic monthly expenses. Many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck and have limited savings to depend upon. The furloughed workers aren’t required to report, but so many of the workers impacted are considered essential and are expected to report, do their job to the best of their ability, pay for childcare while they are at work, and receive no compensation at this time for their labor. Sure, they could risk their jobs by calling in sick or even quit, but then they are giving up pensions and benefits that make federal government jobs attractive in the first place.

My heart just breaks for these people. I flew during the shutdown and it pained me to think of the struggles of the TSA agent scanning my luggage and the air traffic controller guiding my pilot. Now, after more than a month of shutdown, these people are relying on the kindness of others to meet the basic needs of their families.

Join me in donating non-perishable food, household items and personal hygiene items at New Orleans & Company, previously known as the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. During the shutdown, New Orleans & Company is collecting items in their office lobby at 2020 St. Charles Avenue, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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“We recognize the importance of the men and women who keep our airport and port open for business,” said Kristian Sonnier, vice president of communications and public relations at New Orleans & Company. “If not for their dedication to their jobs, even as they work without compensation, our economy would suffer significantly. We felt like we needed to offer support in whatever way possible.”

Sonnier said they are working in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank to collect non-perishable food and items such as paper towels, toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste and other personal hygiene products. Second Harvest will then work to distribute the donated goods to workers employed by TSA, Border Security, Air Traffic Control and the Coast Guard.

New Orleans & Company is also working with Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Sonnier said that while nothing is yet finalized, they are collaborating with MSY on plans to provide meals for airport workers while at work.

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So far, Sonnier said there is no record of tourists cancelling their trips to New Orleans due to the shutdown and there are no indications any will occur.

“We simply want to provide some meaningful support to those negatively impacted by the federal shutdown until there is no need to do so,” said Sonnier.



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