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Local View: Food for tables softens misplaced burden of government shutdown

On Thursday, Jan. 17, First United Methodist Church of Duluth and Ruby's Pantry accomplished a task the full power and effect of Congress has not been able to. We put food on the tables of dozens of federal workers and their dependent families who are unpaid as the direct result of political partisan skullduggery in Washington, D.C. ("Feeding the furloughed: Ruby's Pantry-Coppertop helps out federal workers affected by the government shutdown," Jan. 18).

Ruby's Pantry is an organization that uses the Coppertop Church and volunteers to help feed countless folks in need. Like our constituents, Ruby's Pantry's volunteers are from all walks of life. From a host of area churches, political persuasions, diversities, and career paths, we gather to demonstrate the full power and effect of our community and its determination to feed the hungry.

On Jan. 17, with just a couple of phone calls and emails, Ruby's Pantry gladly filled the grocery carts of unpaid federal employees in the Duluth area, thus softening the misplaced responsibility of the government shutdown.

Ruby's Pantry volunteers also packed shares for those who could not participate, as they were at work, without pay, during our distribution hours. A volunteer delivered an overflowing pickup-load of groceries to a location where they could be distributed easily.

The folks served were both for and against additional border-protection funding.

The volunteers who served them were both for and against additional border-protection funding.

At Ruby's Pantry and the Coppertop Church, diversity is our strength. Our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., need to reject the partisan, single-minded approach to issues that confront us.

Our U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber and our U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith would be welcome to participate at Ruby's Pantry either as volunteers or to receive a share. Oddly enough, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also would be just as welcomed to receive groceries, based on our guidelines. They may have even felt extra welcomed, as we also had bags of toys for little kids.

I don't want to seem upset, but it does seem to me we are doing our elected leaders' jobs for them — that is, feeding folks who have had their incomes interrupted by a political catfight spurred by leaders from both sides of the political spectrum.

This is not a commentary about building a border wall. This is an attempt to place responsibility and consequences for the hapless actions of our lawmakers directly in the laps and bank accounts of those who created the shutdown.

With that said, it is time to ask and demand that our elected legislators serve us as they pledged to do in their oaths of office. The time has come to ask again what they and their offices intend to do with regard to placing the burden of a government shutdown on those responsible for initiating and contributing to the stalemate.

We should demand a response from Washington, D.C. We should hold it up high for all to see. Our community, Ruby's Pantry's customers and volunteers, and the local federal employees who were served eight days ago are more than volunteers and recipients. They are voters.

They are voters who intend to consider the actions of our federal legislators both now and at election time.

Ron Yardley

Ron Yardley of Duluth is a volunteer for Ruby's Pantry and is a member of First United Methodist Church of Duluth, often referred to as the Coppertop Church.