“This is the first time that I come from “: the food banks in new york city are faced with an influx of new entrants, deprived of an income by the shutdown of almost all of the activities of the capital city of the u.s. economy.
Bags filled with oranges, sweet potatoes, and onions out on three tables, sterilized milk, cans of tuna and salmon on the other three: hundreds of people came to get supplies this weekend to one of the markets free offered by a large charity in new york city, City Harvest, in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, in northern Manhattan.
Not long tails who remember the soup kitchens of the 1930s: people arrive at the time, often bearing a mask of protection, and are kept at a distance from each other by volunteers.
Among the “clients,” Lina Aba, 40 years, alone with five children between 11 and 23 years old. She worked as a maid in a Manhattan hotel until he closes it two weeks ago. His two elder children have also lost their jobs.
“This is my first time,” she said. “We need help now. This is crazy, we don’t know what will happen in the coming weeks “.
It strives, however, to keep up the smile. “At least, I spend time with my children. I am the teacher, the mom, all (…) We are alive, in good health, he should just pray “.
This single mother has taken a week to register as unemployed. The computer servers are saturated, leaving predict future unemployment figures were much worse than those announced Thursday by the federal government. But since Friday, “it is done,” she said, relieved.
The benefits should begin to happen in three weeks. It also hopes to reach soon at least 1200 dollars by the federal government, thanks to the assistance plan, historical, approved last week by Congress.
“It won’t be enough, but it will be already grateful for what they can give us “, she says. “There are so many people (to help), it’s the whole city! “
Three million people to help
José Neri, 51 years old, one of the many employees hispanic rotate the restaurants in new york now closed-is also a call for the first time the services of a food bank.
With him, they are five. “We are drawing on our savings to survive,” he said in Spanish, wearing a mask and protective gloves for fear of catching the disease.
“We have what it takes to hold out for the moment “, he adds. Also account, to be able to ” get by “, on the aid promised by the federal government to low-income people.
Jhordana Ramirez, 39 years old, is it obligated to continue to work, despite the risks of contagion within a metropolis with tens of thousands of confirmed cases. She is a home help with the elderly, which ” depend on 100% of it.
The effect of the crisis on his home is ” huge “, she says. Her husband and her elder daughter lost their jobs. His youngest, 8-year-old “anxious” and doesn’t hold in place.
“I try to save as much as possible, especially for the rent, bills like electricity, cable, food, and all these things,” she said, waiting with impatience for the cheque to federal.
Testimonials which Geraldine Fermin, an employee of City Harvest, is accustomed, for nearly two weeks as the economic capital of american lives confined.
“It breaks my heart that it could be like that for so many people,” she said. “People who were poor are poorer, and those who had decent jobs, which could fend for themselves, are now poor too.”
“It had prior to the 1.2 million people in New York who were in need of assistance for food. At this time it is three times more, it is more than 3 million New Yorkers, ” says Eric Ripert, vice-president of the board of directors of City Harvest and the owner of the famous restaurant Le Bernardin, closed also.
The charitable association, which, in addition to its markets, provides food to about 400 homeless centres, has for the moment no problem of supply, he says.
But she seeks funds to buy more food, and combines with other associations to present a united front in the face of ” a situation which will get worse “.
“We’ve had September 11, the great recession of 2008-2009, there has been a lot of things, but this is not at all comparable to this disaster that is in the process of living “, is worried about Eric Ripert.