A Grocery Store With Free Food Just Opened to Help Workers During the Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in US history is taking its toll on the country. A new report suggests it could push the economy into a contraction, tribes are facing dire medical situations, and hundreds of thousands of workers aren't getting paychecks, not to mention the thousands of contract workers (like janitors) who aren't going to get back pay once a settlement is reached. That sets aside the damage being done to national parks and the trickle-down impact the closure is having on small businesses

Kraft -- yeah, the mac-and-cheese company -- is looking to ease the struggle of workers who aren't getting paid. On January 16, Kraft will open a pop-up grocery store in Washington DC called "Kraft Now Pay Later." The store will allow furloughed workers to take home a bag full of Kraft products free of charge as long as they can present their government ID.

All the company asks in return is that works pay it forward when and if they can by donating to a charity or helping another person in need. (There's also a bit in the terms that says anyone entering the store grants the company permission to use their likeness for "advertising and marketing purposes.")

"During the government shutdown, parents should not have to worry about putting dinner on the table because they aren't receiving a paycheck," the company wrote in its announcement. 

There's certainly something unsettling about a government abandoning workers to the extent that large companies need to step in and play the hero. Nonetheless, Kraft and the many other restaurants and organizations offering aid to furloughed workers are genuinely helping people during a difficult time.

The store at 1287 4th Steet NE in DC will be open from January 16 through January 20. The company has built a Facebook event page to house details on store hours and other locations that are offering furloughed workers help during the shutdown. 

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.