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Federal Employees In Oregon Prepare Finances As Shutdown Persists

Federal employees in Oregon who won’t get a paycheck this weekend are busy figuring out how to make ends meet.

Dozens of them visited the on Thursday, to take advantage of free dog food, cat litter and tennis balls.

Gretchen Solomon would usually be patting people down at Portland International Airport in her job as a TSA agent.

“When I found this was going to happen, I called my creditors and told them the situation," she said. "They were willing to work with me."

Rick Cvarak, who makes maps for the U.S. Forest Service, also attended the event.

“What I did personally was, I went ahead and did a credit card advance," Cvarak said. "It covers essentially what I would have expected on my paycheck and that’s how I personally am navigating this.”

He said the money from his credit card will go to his mortgage and food.

Other people said they’ve lived through federal shutdowns before and have savings.

Many said they’re helping each other out with things like non-perishable food and car repair — or just meeting up for support.

So far, the shutdown is having limited effect on people who depend on federal help for food and other basics.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it’s working on options to keep benefits running though February.

After that, it’s unclear what will happen.

Sue Woodbury directs the Oregon portion of the federal program for women, infants and children.

“We are getting questions. We’re hearing from participants," Woodbury said. "We’re hearing from the retail grocery stores, where the participants would go to get their food prescriptions. And we’re assuring them, at this point, that it’s business as usual.”

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will also continue unaffected until the end of February. About 615,000 Oregonians use the food benefit.

CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, should be unaffected by the government shutdown, as it is funded for the entire year.

The said it’s open to federal employees who need help — and that past shutdowns have led to drops in enrollment because of confusion.

<p>Matt Hall screens baggage for the TSA at the airport. He's been through a furlough before so he has savings to keep his family going for a short while. He picked up some free food and kitty litter from the Oregon Humane Society for his two cats.</p>
<p>Kristian Foden-Vencil</p> /
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<p>Matt Hall screens baggage for the TSA at the airport. He's been through a furlough before so he has savings to keep his family going for a short while. He picked up some free food and kitty litter from the Oregon Humane Society for his two cats.</p>

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting