TAMPA, Fla (FOX 13) - Help arrived Monday for federal airport workers who are still being asked to work during the government shutdown, but aren't being paid.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay joined several organizations to launch the site near TPA to help employees impacted by the shutdown, which is now the longest in U.S. history.
"These men and women have not been paid. They have to pay their bills, they have to feed their family, they have to take care of everything," said Jamie McPherson, with the Crisis Center, who is also a former TSA employee. "It's tough for these guys and that's why this is something that's personal with me."
According to recent studies, TSA employees are paid an annual average salary between about $28,000 and $45,000.
TSA employees are considered essential, meaning while many are still receiving paychecks, for various reasons some are not, including dozens of men and women who work at Tampa International Airport.
Feeding Tampa Bay was part of the effort, opening up a food bank for federal airport workers.
As the employees walked out of the assistance center with bags or boxes of food, most declined to discuss their thoughts, telling reporters their bosses told them to keep quiet.
A few, however, had plenty on their minds.
"I have a two-year-old and my husband just lost his job, so not getting paid, I don't know when I’m going to be able to pay my bills," said one worker who asked to remain anonymous.
"Financially, [government leaders] don't really know what exactly we're going through aside from this alone." said Randall Baker, who has been a TSA employee for nine years. "Me and my wife, we've had a lot of stuff going on this past year. My parents both passed away this year. That was hard. So, they don't know what else we got going on."
Baker worked through the last prolonged shutdown in 2013, but explained why this one is more difficult for his family.
"We didn't know if we were going to get that paycheck or not, so that kind of got stressful back then. But we also didn't have a baby and now we have a nine-month-old, so that just adds to it," he said. "If it lasts too much longer, I'm going to have to pick up something else to do on the side. So that's less time with the family, more time at work which is kind of stressful, knowing that I'll be spending less time at home without any guarantee if I'm getting anything from here."
The food pantry and assistance site near the airport is expected to be open throughout the shutdown. On Monday, the hours were noon-2 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. The address for the site is 5020 N. Westshore Boulevard in Tampa.