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Clara White Mission feeling the effects of government shutdown

4:48 PM, Oct 14, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ju'Coby Pittman, CEO/President of the Clara White Mission, said the organization has seen an increase in the number of people they serve since the beginning of the partial government shutdown. 

Now that the shutdown is in its 14th day, Pittman is concerned about what could happen if things don't take a positive turn soon. 

The Clara White Mission serves up to 700 people every day. And over the past couple of weeks their food lines have been longer, in particular with veterans in need.

Barbara Goodman spent 10 years of her life serving in the U.S. Army. In just a couple of weeks she will graduate from the Clara White culinary program. She's been helping to serve meals there over the past four months.

"The amount of people coming here for meals you wouldn't believe it," said Goodman.

Also hard to believe, she says, is the bickering on Capitol Hill, leading to 350,000 furloughed federal workers. And now more families and veterans are turning to Clara White for help.

"It's increased these past couple of weeks," said Goodman. "Because you have a lot of people who don't know where their next meal is coming from."

Inside of their freezer you'll see a couple of empty shelves. Clara White relies on donations and they receive some government funding. Kevin Carrico, VP of Operations says they're concerned about keeping up with the added demand.

"When you talk to people that come here you get the feeling that they don't really understand exactly what's going on," said Carrico. "But they're upset about it. They feel the government has let them down."

"You have vets out looking for more assistance," said Goodman. "Because I can sit here and say myself I don't know if I'm getting my check next month. I don't even know."

Thanksgiving is less than 30 days away and Pittman says around this time of year their shelves are usually filled with food. She says they're hopeful a compromise will happen soon to put an end to the shutdown. 

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