- Many federal employees have struggled to make ends meet without a salary as the government shutdown continues.
- In a post on Reddit, one federal employee said they were relying on a discount from the meal-replacement startup Soylent to feed their family.
- Soylent verified the employee’s claim to Business Insider, saying that “quite a few” government employees had reached out to the company during the shutdown.
As the US government shutdown approaches its fifth week, federal employees are struggling to cope with a sudden loss of salary. Some workers have been forced to take a second job, while others are considering filing for unemployment.
One federal employee even turned to a meal replacement to feed their small family. In a now deleted post on Reddit, the employee said Soylent, a Silicon Valley startup that manufactures a food-replacement drink, “financially saved [their] family’s life amid the government shutdown.”
“My wife and I are government employees who recently had a newborn baby six months ago,” the employee wrote. “At the time of this post, it’s Day 30 of the shutdown and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.”
On January 11, a day when government workers would normally expect a paycheck, Soylent extended a35% discount to all federal employees through the end of the shutdown. The startup joins a long list of companies, including Kraft, Potbelly, and Sweetgreen, offering food and services as the shutdown continues.
Before the Soylent discount was announced, the Reddit poster said, their family was considering switching to an all-ramen diet to “allocate enough funds to feed our baby.” The employee said they were “in tears” when they saw the Soylent offer on Instagram.
“I’ll remember this kind favour the rest of my life,” the employee wrote.
In a statement, Soylent confirmed to Business Insider that “the order from the [Reddit] poster is, in fact, legitimate and was a qualified redemption of the offer.”
The company said “quite a few” government employees have reached out to the company during the shutdown.
“We are so happy that the promotion continues to do exactly what we hoped it might – help individuals and families affected by the furlough get through a tough, temporary situation,” the company told Business Insider. “While we know there are myriad food options for people affected by this situation, we believe that Soylent is a viable option cost-wise.”
The company estimated that, based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day, a furloughed employee (a worker who is not working or receiving pay during the shutdown) could feed themselves for less than $US6 a day, or $US1.19 per meal.
The product also satisfies a few daily nutritional requirements.
Drinking 2,000 calories’ worth of Soylent – about five drinks – offers 60 grams of protein, which exceeds the federal dietary guidelines for Americans. Five drinks also contain about 15 grams of fibre. That’s slightly less than the federal recommendation, but consistent with what the average American consumes.
Soylent is also low in added sugar, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and it provides about 20% of daily recommended micronutrients.
Though dietitians have cautioned against drinking liquids for every meal, the product has helped at least one family weather a crisis.
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