As Shutdown Continues, Support Increases at Coast Guard Academy Food Pantry

The days wear on and wallets get tighter as the partial government shutdown continues into day 26 with no end in sight.

But Leamy Hall at the Coast Guard Academy has turned into a food pantry for the third day in a row to help any federal employee furloughed or working without pay.

“The very community that the Coast Guard works to save, turning around to help us during this trying time,” Chief Musician Cedric Mayfield of the U.S. Coast Guard, who was with his family packing up food.

Coast guardsmen, reservists, Coast Guard civilians and their families are still without a paycheck and lining up to fill bags and boxes full of food to support their families.

“It saves a couple of trips to the grocery and a couple of hundred bucks here and there,” said Musician First Class Wesley Mayhew.

“I’m probably just going to go ahead. Look for a job. Something part-time. You know, just so we don’t need to dip all the way into our savings,” said Kasey Vega, whose husband is in the Coast Guard.

Some parents were holding their infants as they walked through Leamy Hall, thankful for the supplies of diapers, wipes and other hygiene products.

The community stepped up, too. As one table emptied, it was almost immediately filled again with donations.

Irene Karasevich, of Uncasville, came to drop off food. She has military ties. Her husband, son and grandson all serve or had served in the Navy. The branches that are under the Department of Defense are still getting paid during the shutdown. She also has another grandson in ROTC.

“My daughter collects coupons all year long and there are about 72 boxes of cereal there,” Karasevich said.

Then there were giant trucks coming in, like one from the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank filled with fresh produce, meats and frozen food.

“We can help support food, so that’s one less thing they have to spend their money on, they can spend it toward other things,” said Dina Sears-Graves, vice president of community impact at United Way.

Later in the day, another group brought in 12 pallets of food.

“We’ve just been so excited about having events like this because it helps offset costs for later, because we don’t know how long it’s going to last,” said Anna Griffiths, whose husband is in the Coast Guard.

Griffiths’ landlord has been understanding about their situation, too. She lives in military housing.

“They have been really helpful in that they’re not assessing late fees right now so we’re not going to get kicked out of our home like others who are living on the economy,” Griffiths said.

Even children of Coast guardsmen felt the weight of the kindness.

“I wouldn’t expect us to be getting this much, but I’m happy that we are,” said teenager Jasmine Vega.

Joy Tanner, who was taking advantage of the pantry at Leamy Hall too, works with the grounds crew at the Coast Guard Academy as a Coast Guard civilian employee.

She’s also without a paycheck, looking to file for unemployment, but said she supports President Trump’s decision about the shutdown.

“We have to just trust he is doing the best for us. You know, it’s about trust,” Tanner, of New London, said.

USCG Southeastern Connecticut Chief Petty Officers Association Craig Breverman, who’s facilitating the food pantry, said they’ll continue it through Tuesday and will reassess if the shutdown continues. They’ve also brought trucks of donations to fellow Coast Guardsmen in New Haven.

Contact Us