Coronavirus News: Grant funding NYC street vendors during pandemic is running out

COVID-19 News and Information
BAY RIDGE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Dozens of New York City street vendors were given a lifeline during the pandemic, but the grant that's funding it is running out.

"For centuries street venders have been an essential part the fabric of this city," Mohamed Attia of the Street Vendor Project said.

They serve not only food, but often dreams.

"We have seen many supermarkets, many big businesses start off the street," street vendor Mohamed Saad said.

Saad left his home in Egypt seven years ago to start a food cart in Times Square.

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"It was great that I found a job right away," Saad said.

Then the pandemic hit. His business, like so many street venders, disappeared in a New York minute.

"Once I stopped working, I had no income and I had no savings, I was borrowing money from friends and family members," Saad said.

Then in August, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation funded a food distribution program.

To employ members who lost businesses for many months during the pandemic, 30 street vendors were hired to cook food that was then donated to families in need.

It put people like Saad back to work.

Putting people like Mohammed back to work.

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"It was a really great feeling, I was really happy by working and serving community members and my neighborhoods," Saad said.

In all, the seven-week program served 6,800 meals in Brooklyn and the Bronx. But funding for the program ends on Friday.

"We really hope other organizations and other donors, individuals and step up and support our work food distribution program," Attia said.

The hope is that it will continue feeding not only people's stomachs, but their souls too.

"I learned how the people really stand up and support each other and how community members support one another," Saad said.

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