Government shutdown forces Pearl Harbor Commissary to close

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It didn’t take long for the ripple effect of the shutdown to make its way to the commissary.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Dwayne McDonald planned to go shopping at the commissary Wednesday morning.

“We’re so used to going to everything that’s our privileges, that’s available to us. So I guess right now, due to the budget, we can’t use our own facilities like we want to do,” Sgt. McDonald said.

Commissaries across the country are closed. It’s a hardship for commissary employees on furlough and for shoppers like Sgt. McDonald.

“To me, it’s a big difference because I can go in here and buy milk for like three something. If you buy it at Safeway or something like this, it’s almost like $5 or $6 just for milk. So, it’s pretty easy for me and my family to come here and we can get the stuff we need,” Sgt. McDonald said.

Sgt. McDonald is based at Ft. Shafter. Many shoppers count on the commissary for their major grocery purchases.

“Fruits and vegetables and meat, cheese, all the pasta, tomatoes. All the big, big things. It’s a blessing,” a shopper said.

Many were caught off guard, believing since the NEX or Naval Exchange next door was open, the commissary would be, too. The difference is, the NEX — like military golf courses and clubs — are self-funding, while the commissary operates with a federal subsidy. Meanwhile, more than 800,000 federal employees are on furlough.

“I work for the Navy over on Ford Island and my guys have been furloughed. We were called in [Tuesday], they had us all sign these papers, and they said you’re furloughed until further notice. So, we’re out of work,” furloughed worker Guy Ransom said.

Ransom is a retired Marine.

Sgt. McDonald is active military with a family of five to feed.

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