By David Brand
Nearly a month into the federal government shutdown, federal employees and contractors have been forced to tighten their belts, dip into their savings or find other jobs to make ends meet.
A few Queens businesses and leaders have recognized the hardships experienced by their neighbors. They are giving back to lend a helping hand and demonstrate solidarity.
On Jan. 22, Elegante Restaurant, a pizzeria on Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Far Rockaway, will give free pizza pies to all customers with a federal employee ID. It is the second Tuesday in a row that the restaurant has provided free pies to workers who are furloughed or forced to go without pay.
“We’ve been here for 37 years and the community has been behind us. So we’re behind the community,” Amato said. “I feel like someone should step up and do something to show we have their back.”
Across the street, Uncle Louie G’s also gave away free pints of ice cream to federal workers earlier this month. The owners are currently on vacation.
On Friday, State Sen. James Sanders held a press conference to announce the start of a collection for federal workers affected by the shutdown. Transportation Security Administration agents, many of whom live in Sanders’ Southeast Queens district, have been particularly hard-hit by the shutdown. As essential employees, they have been forced to work without payment.
Sanders’ staff will collect items at his South Ozone Park office, located at 141-01 Rockaway Boulevard.