Montclair bread co.

Thousands of individuals with federal jobs are currently living without their regular paychecks, thanks to the longest government shutdown in history. Thankfully, some companies and local businesses are trying to lighten their load.

Nationally, major banks like Chase and Wells Fargo are offering assistance options (call to inquire about them before you start missing payments), in addition to cell phone service providers like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, which are working on short term assistance plans.

PSEG, NJ’s biggest utility company, just announced that the company will give federal employees and other customers in a financial pinch this winter a break. Those having trouble making ends meet can call customer service for a 60-day grace period during which their accounts will be locked and protected from shut off. Those with longer-term hardships can apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Atlantic City Electric also announced it was working on similar relief programs, as well.

Mortgage assistance is also available from a few companies, plus loans. OceanFirst Bank is assisting those affected with a Mortgage Relief Program, which suspends payments for up to 90 days interest-free. One-time, zero percent loans are also being offered to active Coast Guard members and members of the Navy Federal Credit Union.

Hackensack Meridian Health also announced that co-pays and deductibles for emergency care will be waived for furloughed federal employees and their families. The network has 17 hospitals and more than 500 patient locations from Bergen to Ocean counties. Morristown Medical Center and Morristown Family Dental also followed suit.

Tuition is also an expense looming over the heads of the affected. Middlesex County College is providing tuition assistance to students who’d otherwise be dropped from their courses due to being behind on payments.

For federal workers missing their regular appointments, Craft + Theory Hair Studio in Ho-Ho-Kus is offering free haircuts for employees and one additional family member—just call and make an appointment, and don’t forget your federal ID.

There are even free exercise classes around for those needing to destress in these tough times, or those who can’t afford to pay their gym memberships elsewhere. Garry Tonon, owner of Brunswick Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in South Brunswick, offered free training to government employees. NJ Yoga Zone in Margate is providing free classes for all federal employees who are furloughed, not working or working without pay. Families can take the kids to Sky Zone’s participating locations for one hour of free play (up to three family members, every Tuesday-Thursday). Mountain Creek is also offering free lift tickets to furloughed employees and their families until the shutdown ends. Just bring your federal ID and furlough notice to get the deal. 

A slew of NJ restaurants and eateries are also lending support:

AC Iron Room, Cape May
Free dinner to active US Coast Guard members and spouses
Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 pm

Brickwall Tavern, Asbury Park, Burlington City, Philadelphia
A percentage off federal workers’ food bills based on how many days the government has been closed (ie: on day 25, they gave 25 percent)
Any time while open

C View Inn, Cape May
50 percent off all food for all active armed service personnel and their families
Any time while open

Downtown Dhaba and Nirvana Indian Kitchen, Allendale and Westwood
Free lunch to federal employees and their families
Lunchtime, once a week

Ewing Diner
Free hot lunch from Jan. 22-24 with ID
2-5 pm

Hidden Grounds Coffee, Hoboken, Jersey City and New Brunswick 
Free coffee for federal employees
Any time while open

Ice Cream by Mike, Ridgewood
Free hot dogs
Any time while open, while supplies last

JBJ Soul Kitchen, Red Bank and Toms River
Meals to furloughed federal workers
Dinner, Wed.-Sat. 5-7 pm; Brunch, Sun. 11:30 am-2 pm (Red Bank)
Lunch, Wed.-Fri. 11:30-3 pm; Dinner, Sat. 5-7 pm; Brunch, Sun. 11:30 am-2 pm (Toms River)

The Little Daisy Bake Shop, Montclair
Free baked goods for federal workers
Sundays, 5-6 pm

Montclair Bread Co., Montclair
One drip coffee and one loaf of bread or sandwich
Any time while open, subject to availability

Montclair Brewery, Montclair
A pint of craft beer
Any time while open

Saffron, Wyckoff
Free lunch to federal employees and their families
Lunchtime, once a week

Steve’s Burgers, Garfield
Free cheeseburger and fries for government employees
Any time while open

Stone & Rail, Glen Rock
Free entree to federal workers and guests; via donations to a campaign by Glen Rock After the March, a grassroots progressive group (donate to the campaign here)
Any time while open

Be sure to bring your federal employee ID with you to get these deals. And if you aren't affected by the shutdown, help support these local businesses so they can keep helping people in financial need.

Know of any other businesses helping out? Let us know in the comments.