NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Federal employees who are out of work because of the partial government shutdown now can find a little bit of sympathy from a group of New Jersey coffee shops that are giving the workers free cups of java and some pastry.
Hidden Grounds Coffee, which has two shops in New Brunswick, as well as locations in Jersey City and Hoboken, posted signs in the store windows with the free offers.
"If you work for the following government agencies, your coffee is on us," reads the sign that also been posted on social media.
The offer was born from the owners seeing and hearing news reports about workers who are struggling with bills, said Anand Patel, co-owner of the Hidden Grounds.
"You can see the impact on the people. Some of them can't afford t pay rent or buy groceries," said Patel, who owns the coffee shops with his partner, Spoorthi Kumar. "It's a very small gesture and if people can take a little something from it, we're grateful."
In the window of each shop is a sign that begins, "If you work for the following government agencies, your coffee is on us."
The offer, as the sign states, is open to employees of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Defense and Education, as well as Congress and "any other we might have missed."
The last line on the sign said the offer is "valid until our government gets it together again."
This is not the first effort to give back to the community.
Hidden Grounds opened five years ago.
Patel said that each year, he and his partner work with a local non-profit agency in New Brunswick to host a night for homeless people in New Brunswick, offering food and drink, and coordinate with the agency to offer coats and other clothing.
"We are more than just business owners," Patel said of their desire to reach out to people and try to help others.