By Jessica Easthope
Food is the most basic of necessities, yet during the coronavirus pandemic, so many don’t have enough.
Luis Espinoza has been unemployed for more than two months, which is why he came May 1 to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ pop-up food distribution at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Elmhurst, Queens. He says he’s been missing stability, but he’s also been missing something else.
“We don’t work right now, so we needed some food for my kids,” he explained. “We come every Sunday here to church, but now church is closed, so it’s been hard too.”
Like Luis, thousands of others in the hardest hit communities like Elmhurst feel that same spiritual need as well as a desperate and growing need to provide for their families.
“We will run out of food today,” Richard Slizeski, Senior Vice President for Mission of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens told Currents News. “We packed for 1,200 bags. There’s probably easily 700 more people in line after that, so the need is great.”
Catholic Charities and St. Bartholomew’s worked shoulder to shoulder to feed the body and nourish the soul.
“Today we’re doing the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament,” Father Rick Beuther, the church’s pastor, explained. “We’ve given out 2,000 rosaries to people online, and it’s a reminder that while we need to be socially distant, Jesus is not socially distant to his people.”
Fr. Rick says so far, more than 60 of his parishioners have died from coronavirus, a loss he’s taking especially hard.
He also got sick himself.
“I myself had the virus,” he said. “Thank God it wasn’t too serious, just loss of taste and smell, and lots of extra sleep.”
Catholic Charities filled and gave away 1,200 bags of food Friday. Every few minutes, hundreds of people would make it in and out with days worth of food.
It’s a service designed to help those in need turn a corner.
“Feeding the hungry is something at our core in terms of feeding the human dignity of every person.” Richard explained.
In addition to food and comfort, people were also given information on where to find help. Lists of additional food pantries and where to get mental health services were handed out to everyone in line.