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Thousands Line Up Outside Queens Food Pantry Hours Before Opening

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A large crowd formed outside a food pantry early this morning in Queens, hours before it was set to open.

The line stretched for blocks as thousands tried to make their way inside St. Bartholomew's Church in Elmhurst, Queens.

"The first person in line behind me was online at 10 o'clock last night," said pastor Richard Beuther.

Beuther says they wanted to find a way to give back to a community that's been ravaged by the coronavirus. St. Bartholomew's alone has lost more than 60 parishioners.


Just blocks away is Elmhurst Hospital, which saw some of the worst scenes tied to the health crisis. The scene at the church is a reminder of the economic impact, reported CBS2's Kevin Rincon.

"Food instability has been the biggest thing. People don't have enough money to buy the basics, and food is a pretty basic thing," said Richard Slizeski, who is with the nonprofit Catholic Charities.

Slizeski says with the help of farmers upstate, they brought enough food to feed more than 1,600 families.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Volunteers have been helping to distribute fresh produce, juice, the essentials, to thousands of people who at the moment have nothing.

For Maria Pinto, the hardest part of the outbreak was losing her job. She told Rincon the past few months are the longest she's ever gone without work.

Jose Cuba, an undocumented immigrant, says no one he knows got stimulus money, so they've all had to rely on food pantries. He told Rincon he has no idea how he's managed to get by. As for how much longer he can go without working, he says only God knows.


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