The longest U.S. partial government shutdown is about to hit the 30-day mark with no end in sight. We are on the brink of a national emergency if the White House and lawmakers continue failing to negotiate over funding for Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico.
With furloughed federal employees still working without pay and struggling to decide whether to pay their next bill or allocate money for groceries, food pantries across the country are seeing an unfortunate spike in business during this crisis.
CNN anchor Victor Blackwell shifted gears during Saturday's "New Day" broadcast and asked viewers to help their local food banks.
CNN anchor makes desperate plea amid shutdown www.youtube.com
"It's the end of the first full week after more than 800,000 federal workers and an estimated two million federal contractors were not paid," Blackwell said.
"The stories are becoming more desperate."
"People are pawning their wedding rings to pay rent, deciding between buying medicine and paying the power bill, selling their Christmas presents to make ends meet, to buy food."
The news anchor emphasized that the food crisis is affecting working people. And although he admitted being grateful for always receiving paychecks, unlike the furloughed employees, he could relate to the struggles of those earning low wages.
"I know what it feels like to open the refrigerator and there's nothing but condiments and ice, to hope that it's someone's birthday at work the next day and there's a potluck so you can have lunch tomorrow."
"No working person, especially not people who work for us, who work for the American people, should have to struggle the way that federal workers are right now."
Blackwell then announced he was about to do something he's never done before. He inspired viewers to help "feed each other."
"I don't want to sound self-righteous. This show is not a telethon. We will continue to challenge the policies and the politics and all that's happening in Washington, but at the same time I know that we can feed each other."
"People shouldn't have to question where their next meal is from. We could feed each other."
Let's make sure our federal workers don't have to question where they'll get their next meal. Support your local f… https://t.co/EWclRyQE3W— Victor Blackwell CNN (@Victor Blackwell CNN)1547901509.0
Blackwell disclosed he will be donating to the Atlanta Community Food Bank and asked people to support their local community food banks as well. He provided the hashtag: #shutdownhunger for people to help spread the message on their various social media accounts.
"Again, we can feed each other while they fight in Washington."
People have started responding to the call because starving is not an option.
Woke up and saw Victor Blackwell on CNN talking about helping federal employees during shutdown. Immediately wante… https://t.co/ohTn4AEKsn— Anita Francis (@Anita Francis)1547989676.0
We cannot re-open the government, but we can feed our neighbors, including those 3 million federal workers and cont… https://t.co/hAZce9ZCcN— Elizabeth St.John (@Elizabeth St.John)1547914157.0
@VictorBlackwell I was moved by your honesty and humility @VictorBlackwell. $30 to The Greater Chicago Food Deposit… https://t.co/mLFISQwQTV— Tim Piatek (@Tim Piatek)1547902167.0
@VictorBlackwell Sipping my morning coffee in cold Canada this morning listening to your plea to your fellow Americ… https://t.co/Nud9zbo0vt— Sarah Comeau (@Sarah Comeau)1547901780.0
@Mickey_Halifax @VictorBlackwell #ShutdownHunger From Alberta, Canada. I am a student of immigrant parents and und… https://t.co/zLX7uRNgDR— Matayo (@Matayo)1547905423.0
@VictorBlackwell Done! @ACCFB is a terrific, efficient organization offering healthy food to one in five people in… https://t.co/5ZbZU4i33I— Suzanne Harris (@Suzanne Harris)1547903125.0
@VictorBlackwell Greatful to kind federal work talents who support us. Thanks for a timely reminder. Glad to contri… https://t.co/sbopfFgXS5— Rahul Avasthy (@Rahul Avasthy)1547912598.0
I just made a donation to the Atlanta Food Bank @VictorBlackwell I love this idea #shutdownhunger— Eileen Hallmark (@Eileen Hallmark)1547901429.0
@VictorBlackwell Putting my money where my mouth is!!! Atlanta Community Food Bank Donation complete #shutdownhunger— Jerry3natl (@Jerry3natl)1547901980.0
@VictorBlackwell $100 provides 700 meals. #ShutdownHunger #BeKind https://t.co/CmHfEjwUvQ— Terri Cummings (@Terri Cummings)1547902156.0
Blackwell was venerated for going off script to help those we are indebted to.
@VictorBlackwell Your brief compassionate appeal to the people of our nation to at the least feed each other, was o… https://t.co/gbdYX52Sfo— Jeff Stine (@Jeff Stine)1547953051.0
@VictorBlackwell It says a lot about people in this country who band together to take care of one another. From all… https://t.co/jwLZCHhwg8— Trista Wade (@Trista Wade)1547901799.0
@VictorBlackwell As an American and federal employee, I really appreciate this. My family is always prepared for an… https://t.co/cD7X7tUqAW— txtaxman (@txtaxman)1547930173.0
@VictorBlackwell Thanks for your reporting and for the nudge to donate. We fly through O'Hare frequently. Our smal… https://t.co/7dz8b9IJNe— Marcia Kellenberger (@Marcia Kellenberger)1547914288.0
The outpouring of concern and support proves there is still a lot of good in this world. A sense of humanity is being restored with generous donations being made from all walks of life.
@VictorBlackwell Thank you @VictorBlackwell for an awesome idea! I hope this starts trending so all local charities… https://t.co/rY4cUm7H35— Sherri ford (@Sherri ford)1547907489.0
@VictorBlackwell Thank you for your heartfelt words and powerful message to stand up and help those in need during… https://t.co/pMFlLJuuV5— Yoko Zbornak (@Yoko Zbornak)1547925348.0
@VictorBlackwell @victorblackwell I’m just a kid but I donated! My rock band lost a member cuz his dad is Coast Gua… https://t.co/qzpO0TeZhx— Shannon (@Shannon)1548008162.0
@VictorBlackwell Beautiful man, lovely gesture👏 which I saw just now after returning from selling, for the 1st time… https://t.co/dE94uQ3Ipn— Rosemary Lafrenière (@Rosemary Lafrenière)1547926504.0
@VictorBlackwell Thank You Mr. Blackwell! The struggle is real let me tell you. I had a funny but sobering conver… https://t.co/xxWpm9Ng4l— trey ward (@trey ward)1547923449.0
@VictorBlackwell I was moved by your efforts on CNN and will make it a priority to donate regularly to my local foo… https://t.co/3u3b93Tufl— Kim P (@Kim P)1547915728.0
Kyle Waide, the CEO for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, was a guest on the show prior to Blackwell making his plea at the end of the segment. Waide said he spoke to a gentleman who once worked as a volunteer for a food bank and found himself on the other side of the table and expressed how humbling, and frustrated he was over the situation.
The CEO described the current crisis as being in uncharted territory and that his team is preparing "as though it's a natural disaster."
We can all help each other during this crisis. Find out where your local food banks are so you can help by visiting the Feeding America website.