The number of airport security workers calling out sick across the country has reached a record high.
On Monday the Transportation Security Administration reported one in ten people called off work the day before. People in the Tennessee Valley are feeling the effects of the now month-long government shutdown, but the Huntsville International Airport spokeswoman says they have not had security workers call off.
That means TSA employees are working and not getting paid so local restaurants are making sure they don’t work on an empty stomach.
“Make sure people don’t go hungry,” said Timothy Kasyan, manager at Donatos Pizza.
Companies including Donatos Pizza, Phil Sandoval’s Mexican Restaurante, and businesses run by Huntsville’s Nothing But Noodles owners are bringing lunch to the TSA and U.S. Customs employees.
“We just wanna help out those families that are struggling right now,” said Bree King, marketing director for Nothing But Noodles.
TSA reports the 10 percent of workers that called off Sunday cited “financial limitations” as the reason. They make about 40K a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“I really respect and admire the people who are working without pay right now,” said Marcia Elkins, who was eating at Donatos Pizza. “I know it’s gotta be tough and scary.”
“With no time frame on when you’re gonna start getting paid again and you’ve gotta take care of your family,” said Pam Clark, a Donatos Pizza employee. “Then what they gonna do? What their families gonna do? How they gonna pay they rent? How they gonna pay they bills?”
“I was thinking for myself like if I went through that, I’m a single mom, there’s no way I could stay afloat,” King said.
TSA says some airports had wait times that were longer than usual. People in Huntsville are grateful local TSA workers are keeping travelers safe and that they can give back to those workers.
“I talked to my boss ten minutes and two people came up to him and mentioned the shutdown,” King said. “So just to be a part of a company that is helping those families that are going through a hard time is awesome.”
“God bless you and keep up the good work and hopefully everything works out soon,” said Kasyan.
The owners of Nothing But Noodles say they’re willing to bring food every day until the shutdown ends. Chick-Fil-A, Farm Burger, Nothing But Noodles, Urban Cookhouse, and Schlotzsky’s in Huntsville are giving 50 percent off to furloughed families.
Learn about more resources for furloughed families here.