Denver businesses, charities stepping up to support furloughed federal workers with free pizza, pet food and more

Many eateries offering specials to out-of-work employees; some craft beer unable to hit shelves

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Washington, D.C.-, January 11, 2019 | comments

With more than 15,000 of their federally employed neighbors out of workamid a government shutdown that does not appear close to ending, private businesses and charities in the Denver area are stepping up to help out.

That help is coming in forms ranging from free pet food to donations taken straight from businesses’ tills.

Crafty Fox pizzeria and taproom in Globeville is giving each furloughed worker who shows their employee ID one free 10-inch pepperoni pizza and a soda between now and Wednesday. It’s a national chain, but Fazoli’s this week announced free helpings of its baked spaghetti dish for furloughed workers who buy a small drink, an offer that also runs through Wednesday.

Over at 6115 E. 22nd St. in Park Hill, Oblio’s Pizzeria is taking the giving a step further. Federal workers and their immediate families eat free, but the restaurant also plans to “adopt” five federal workers and their families for the duration of the shutdown. Twenty percent of Oblio’s dine-in and take-out sales on Monday and Wednesday night will be dedicated to supporting the families. Further fundraising will be planned if the shutdown continues.

“Some of these people are in a really bad situation, and they didn’t even do anything to cause this to happen to them,” said Morgan McKay, who co-owns Oblio’s with her mom and sister. “We thought if we make a gesture and can help even a small amount of people it will make a difference.”

The story was covered on CBS Denver. So far, Oblio’s has selected two families to help but is still looking for the other three, McKay said. Families that could use help or people who want to recommend a family can email Obliospizzeria@gmail.com or call McKay at 303-918-1204.

It’s no restaurant, but U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s district office in Lakewood, 12600 W. Colfax Ave., is offering free breakfast and lunch food to federal workers and other constituents impacted by the shutdown from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until the government reopens, the Democrat’s staff announced Thursday. His district is home to the Denver Federal Center and has one of the highest concentrations of federal workers outside Washington D.C.

“If folks need help filing for unemployment, or they have questions about the shutdown, staff will be available to help with that,” staffer Ashley Verville said.

Local nonprofits have also announced support initiatives. Food Banks of the Rockies is increasing food distribution to its network of food pantries and has planned three emergency distribution events, the first of which will be held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way, in Commerce City, from 9-11 a.m. Saturday.

The nonprofit Colorado Pet Pantry is doing outreach through its Facebook page to let federal workers know about opportunities to pick up free food for their furry friends over the coming week.

While some private businesses are endeavoring to help federal workers, others are grappling with the impacts of a partial government shutdown.

Boulder-based trade group the Brewers Association is sounding the bell about the impact the closure of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is having on the craft beer industry. The bureau approves labels and processes permits for the release of new beer varieties. Breweries across the country have new brews shelved while they await federal approval to release them, and the Brewers Association warns a backlog is forming.

Among the most damaging effects of the shutdown for private business is the closure of the Small Business Administration, which is not processing small business loans at the moment, said Hunter Railey, Colorado outreach manager for the Small Business Majority.

“They are on the fence with capital construction plans, or they are wanting to buy new inventory after the holidays. You name it, they aren’t getting it because these loans aren’t being processed,” Railey said.

Content originally published by the Denver Post on January 11, 2018.
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