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The photo evokes one of the darkest times in American history.
With the government shutdown hitting its 29th day, stories about federal workers struggling to make ends meet are making headlines. A photo of federal workers standing in line, waiting for food handouts, is yet another stark indication of federal workers’ plights.
On Friday, Jared Holt, who reports for Right Wing Watch, tweeted a picture from a building in Washington, DC.
“There’s a food line for furloughed federal workers in DC that currently stretches around the side of this building,” he captioned the photo.
There's a food line for furloughed federal workers in DC that currently stretches around the side of this building. pic.twitter.com/ZizvDGUXu6
— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) January 18, 2019
“I was taking a break from covering the March for Life rally when I came across this line of furloughed federal workers wrapped around the building. Workers told me they were in line to get free food and coffee, courtesy of local chefs,” Holt told the Daily Dot via Twitter direct message.
The photo shows a sign for chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen, which feeds people in emergency situations, like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the wildfires in California. Now, they are serving federal workers at the U.S. Navy Memorial.
Responses to Holt’s photo pointed out how much the photo looked like scenes from the Great Depression.
Food line great depression pic.twitter.com/StOE1djIGL
— #notmypresident (@darlene09465021) January 18, 2019
Make the Depression Great Again
— hope beats fear & love beats hate (@TweepOut) January 18, 2019
make America the Great Depression again pic.twitter.com/m1eD9gG8c4
— Erinys (@_featherofmaat) January 18, 2019
— Classic Movies (@ClassicMP) January 18, 2019
Others pointed out that the image was reminiscent of Soviet-era bread lines, or the food crisis in Venezuela—a common GOP argument against socialist policies.
— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 19, 2019
Just like Venezuela. Congratulations on your "advances".
— Juan Hernández (@Juanchoh) January 18, 2019
wait I thought only VENEZUELA had food lines
— StillSteerage (@StillSteerage) January 18, 2019
Looks like the old communist russian bread lines.
What have we become? pic.twitter.com/qMC0yTfmkZ
— Rule of Law (@BaconJoel) January 18, 2019
Other media figures, like Ian Bremmer and Kurt Eichenwald, retweeted the image.
Scene from the capital of one of the wealthiest, most developed countries in the world: https://t.co/l4DAaX17qQ
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) January 18, 2019
Furloughed federal workers waiting in lines for free food.
Or, as the Trump Administration calls it, "on vacation." Or as Coulter calls it, "not a big deal because they will get their money later."
The words of the comfortable who never lived paycheck to paycheck. pic.twitter.com/7v8JiYVL46
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) January 18, 2019
A spokesperson from the World Central Kitchen confirmed the nonprofit’s presence at the Navy Memorial.
“The Kitchen is located at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The kitchen has been open since Wednesday and to date they’ve served over 17,000 meals,” the spokesperson told the Daily Dot via email.
Furloughed federal workers are guaranteed back pay for the time they were prevented from working during the shutdown, but it’s unclear how long the shutdown will last. President Donald Trump is set to make an announcement regarding the shutdown at 3pm on Saturday.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.