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TSA Opens Food Pantry For IAD Employees

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) have established a food pantry to assist employees of the airport who have been laid off or had their work hours cut due to the dramatic drop in passengers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

TSA said its employees see it as “paying it forward,” because last year, during the federal government furlough, the airport community donated food, gift cards, diapers, etc., to assist TSA employees who were working without a paycheck. The difference, however, is that TSA employees eventually were paid for the time they worked. The airport contractors and airline employees who have been laid off or had their work hours reduced will not be paid.

“During the furlough we set up a TSA food pantry and the community donated in mass,” said Eric Chin, the TSA assistant federal security director for screening at airport. “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and vendors at the airport purchased meals for the TSA officers during that time. Now we’ve seen hundreds of layoffs taking place in the airport community and we figured we would do what we could do to give back and help.”

The Food Pantry opened on April 5 and is open for eight hours a day, seven days a week. It is stocked with dried and canned goods such as vegetables, soups, cereal, oatmeal, tuna, beans, pasta, peanut butter, preserves, condiments and soda. Some toiletry items also are available for those who need them.

“We were extremely appreciative for what the Airports Authority and airport community as a whole did for TSA employees during the furlough,” explained Cissy Myers, a TSA lead transportation security officer who has been working at Dulles since 2006. “Additionally, we learned a lot during the government shutdown about what people need in addition to food. People need toiletries. They need things like laundry soap, toothpaste and diapers in addition to food, so we are looking to provide those items as well.”

Members of the TSA workforce are dropping off food and some are offering funds to use to purchase groceries to stock the shelves. “Anyone can donate, even if they don’t work at the airport,” Myers said.

MWAA provides the space for the pantry on the arrivals level of the terminal. Hand sanitizer stations are situated just inside and outside the pantry’s entrance. One TSA officer staffs the pantry and up to four individuals are permitted to enter at a time to ensure social distancing.