While furloughed government employees and others are doing some belt-tightening during the U.S. government shutdown, one group in Washington has been reaping huge benefits.
The squirrels living around the White House are feasting on First Lady Michelle Obama’s garden, which was left largely unattended because the maintenance staff has been furloughed.
According to the Obama Foodorama
, a blog that serves as an unofficial “archive of record about Obama Administration food and nutrition initiatives,” weeds are starting to infest the once well-manicured garden and vegetables are falling off the plants and rotting on the ground
The beneficiaries of all of this? The White House squirrels.
According to Eddie Gehman Kohan, the founder of the blog, the squirrels have become more aggressive with the absence of caretakers. “The squirrels are always a problem in the garden, eating the berry crop in the summer months,” she wrote in an October 11 blog post. “But they're now kids in a candy store, gorging themselves.”
Another intruder taking advantage of the unguarded garden is a fox, Kohan reported.
“The fox is apparently entrenched, according to my sources, since Park Service gave up on trying to catch him/her when shutdown began,” she wrote in an email. “I have not personally seen him or her, however. [I] have seen a new hawk on grounds by garden, which I never saw prior to the shutdown.”
While Kohan can’t put a dollar value on the 30 different kinds of organic vegetables in the garden that are going to waste, she did say the 1,500 square foot garden is “in the midst of high production with both late summer and cool season vegetables, and there is a lot of food in there.”
Kohan said she’d asked the White House if volunteers from area food banks could come in and harvest some of the wasting food, but she said she’d gotten no response.