FORT LEE, Va. (WRIC)—The Fort Lee Commissary, where nearly 30,000 service members and their families shop for groceries, is now closed indefinitely due to the government shutdown.
The commissary was jam-packed on Tuesday; people were stocking up because they have no idea when it will reopen. The store is popular among military families because it offers better deals than the average grocery store.
"The shelves are barely holding on," said Willie Rodall Jr. of the Ft. Lee Commissary.
"It's a benefit to shop here," said Sherry Schwab, a military spouse. "It's a privilege and we've earned it, and it's like it's being taken away from us."
Shoppers aren't the only ones affected by the shutdown; some civilian workers will have to stay at home.
"It's ridiculous," said Kim Eley, a federal contractor who works at the commissary headquarters with her husband, Jerry. Both of their paychecks are taking a hit.
"It's frustrating too because there's a lot of people who are in a similar boat as we are," Eley said. "I know a lot of friends of ours who are single parents, raising kids—their income is the only one that's coming in."
This is the second time the Eleys have been forced to take unpaid time off. They have some vacation time to tap into, but some of their coworkers aren't so lucky.
"Since the furloughs occurred during the summer, a lot of our other fellow employees may not have as much leave, or have no leave," Jerry Eley said.
The Eleys' job in the commissary's IT department is to make sure the store's shelves are stocked, but shoppers will have to wait until the government is back in business.
Though some shelves at the commissary are empty and the checkout lines are long, some people are hopeful the situation won't last long.
"No, I'm not stocking up," said Marion Shearn, a military spouse. "I am hoping that in Washington that they'll get their stuff together."
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