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Pittsburgh International Airport Providing Free Lunches To Unpaid TSA Agents, Federal Workers

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- With the federal government shutdown reaching three weeks, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are facing some tough decisions.

Now, the Allegheny County Airport Authority is trying to take a small bite out of some of their financial concerns.

Despite not being paid, TSA agents at Pittsburgh International Airport come to work every day.

"I like being able to say that I take care of people every day, help them," said Jalynn Lopresti, a TSA Agent at Pittsburgh International. "You know, since like 9/11, I'm part of the reason that some of this stuff doesn't happen anymore."

Now, she is one of the 800,000 federal employees not being paid during the federal government shutdown.

So the Allegheny County Airport Authority made a move to provide some help. They are providing free lunches to federal employees who work at the airport on Fridays during the shutdown.

"We realized that's not happening everywhere," said Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

She says there are many airports around the country where TSA agents and other federal employees have been calling in sick. But that hasn't happened in Pittsburgh.

"We wanted to thank them, and we thought, what's meaningful? Well, we could actually give them lunch. I mean, that's an expense that they don't have to incur. So that is the genesis of the idea," Cassotis said.

This federal shutdown is the second longest in US history. It is making it difficult for TSA agents and other federal employees who aren't sure how they are going to pay their bills. They say something like a free lunch makes a difference.

"It's still stressful," Lopresti said. "I'm sure I'm not the only one to say that every day and we're like how are we going to pay our bills in February and you know, are we going to be homeless by February... but I still come to work because I know I have a job, and I'm not the only one."

(Source: @PITairport/Twitter)

More than 200 lunches were given away Friday. Employees received a sandwich, a bag of chips, cookie and a drink. While it may not seem like much, travelers at Pittsburgh International think it is a nice gesture.

"I think it's terrific, I think, and the woman [a TSA Agent] who just walked by, I thanked her for working and serving us during this difficult time. I'm they're like first responders," said Mary Lou McLaughlin, who was traveling to New England to see her grandchildren. "They're there to do their job and to keep us safe. So I think whatever the authority can do for them is great."

The federal employees are also very grateful.

"This is my first shut down. A lot of the people I worked with been through like five or six, but this definitely helps because, like, I mean, it's hard [to pay] for gas to get to work sometimes, and you know, going to the store to get groceries, you have to conserve stuff but until this government opens back up again," Lopresti said.

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