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Emergency 'Pop Up' Food Pantries Help Coast Guard Families During Shutdown

BOURNE (CBS) - Twenty-one days into the partial government shutdown, some 40,000 military families are missing their first paychecks.

Coast Guard members are required to work during the shutdown. They received a paycheck on December 31st, but the one scheduled for Friday, January 11th will not be paid until after the shutdown.

"It's scary," said Amber Broadway, whose husband is in the Coast Guard at the Boston base. "It's scary because your bills don't go away because the government's shutdown."

Her family, including her two teenage boys, live at the Coast Guard Base at Buzzard's Bay.

Don Cox
Don Cox and Amber Broadway (WBZ-TV)

The Broadways have been through a handful of shutdowns in their 14 years as a Coast Guard family, but this is the first they say they'll miss a paycheck.

To cope, Amber sought out help at an emergency food pantry set up at Buzzard's Bay by the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, run by Don Cox. The Foundation put an emergency plan in place when the shutdown seemed inevitable, and has been executing it to provide more than 100,000 pounds of food to local military families for three weeks. "We do it because it's necessary," President Don Cox said. "There's no reason in the world that anybody who puts their life on the line for us to go rescue people and do that they do should have to go through this. It's wrong."

In addition to the Buzzard's Bay pantry, Cox's foundation has set up pantries in Boston and Rhode Island.

Amber Broadway never imagined herself needing these resources, but says it's been an enormous help while her husband's pay is in limbo. "There's a lot of talk of 'well, you'll get paid.' Or 'it'll come eventually,'" she said. "And that's okay. It will come eventually. And we will be very grateful when it does, but at the same time, it's scary, because my kids need to eat today. Not eventually."

In the meantime, she relies on support from other Coast Guard spouses. They try "to remind each other that it'll be okay, it'll be alright," she said. "Because there's no party lines when it gets to that. There's no right or wrong side of the aisle. It's just encouraging each other to get through this day and the day after that and the day after that."

Massachusetts Military Support Foundation gets the food through donations and corporate partnerships. It created a GoFundMe page particularly for help during the pop up pantries for the shutdown.

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