Coronavirus News: Line at Queens food pantry stretches for 8 blocks

CORONA, Queens (WABC) -- Nearly two months into the pandemic, the strain on some families is at an all-time high. With no jobs and no income, some have no way to pay rent and even putting food on the table is difficult.

Demand for food assistance is rising at an extraordinary rate, and at a food pantry in Queens on Wednesday, the line stretched for eight blocks.

At one of the hardest-hit communities in Corona, a food pantry at Elmcor, located on Northern Boulevard, opens at noon on Wednesdays and goes until 4 p.m., or until they run out of food. Last week, they served at least 540 families.

A 9-year-old boy named Andrew was one of those in line who did not get food because the pantry ran out. He said his family is running out of food at home and he is not alone.

A report from the Brookings Institute said that since the pandemic started, 22.7% of families in the United States don't have enough money for more food -- that's up from 11% in 2018.

And 17% of those asked said the children in their household are not eating enough because they couldn't afford enough food.

Many in line for food in Corona on Wednesday were undocumented immigrants so they are not getting stimulus checks from the government.

Meanwhile, labor unions, immigrant advocates, and New York City Councilmember Francisco Moya worked together to deliver groceries to immigrant day laborers in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona.

While COVID-19 keeps construction, sites shuttered, and may workers at home, their families struggle financially because of lost income and exclusion from government aid.

"For undocumented workers with no safety net or union protections, the job loss that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic has meant immediate food insecurity for workers and their families, while those who continue working as essential workers are at high risk of exposure," said Manuel Castro, Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE).

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