PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A Pass Christian restaurant stepped up to help furloughed federal workers in the fourth week of the partial government shutdown.
"Basically we are at the mercy of the government," said Jason Edge, a federal employee.
Savory Roots began their “Furlough Friday” special to restore some of their hope. From open to close on Fridays, any hungry government worker can get a free French Fry po’boy sandwich by showing their valid government ID.
Jessica Calvert, the restaurant’s owner, believed that between worrying about how they are going to pay bills and put food on the table for their families, government employees should not also have to worry about putting food in their stomachs during the day.
“So, for the local businesses to offer little incentives during a time when folks aren’t getting a paycheck, that’s a great thing,” Edge said.
Calvert said she is doing this because she saw how the shutdown is hurting people in her own life.
“My dad is furloughed, my uncles are furloughed, my workers families are furloughed,” Calvert said.
According to people dining and working at the restaurant, federal workers are not the only people who are feeling the burn of the shutdown.
“It’s trickled down, so us not getting a paycheck affects other businesses that rely on us,” Edge said.
Calvert also runs a food truck at Stennis Space Center during the week, which is affected as well. According to Calvert, 60 percent of the government work at Stennis has been stopped, so only 40 percent of employees are working. When the food truck opens every week, the customers who pay are only covering the cost of supply and labor. Calvert said she is not really making a profit out there anymore.
"Without our restaurant or other avenues of business, I don't know that we would be able to open the food truck," Calvert said. "I don't know that we would be in business."
Despite that complication, Calvert said cooking is her way of reaching people with love. She is grateful for her job. She only wants these sandwiches to hit the spot and make a few people happy or less stressed for a little while.
She was inspired to do po’boys because of the 1929 New Orleans streetcar strikes that gave birth to the iconic sandwich. The Furlough Fridays will be every Friday until the partial government shutdown ends.