What's that that must be out there? Yeah, the halal food pantry. All right, it's seven o four on a Friday morning. The pantry doesn't open for another couple of hours and people are already lined up down the block. They've brought baskets or little portable chairs so they can sit down while they wait and they're waiting for it to open. Yes. So before the pandemic, I had covered pantries. And, you know, there would be a few people in line.
If you were walking past, you might not have known that it was a pantry. But when the pandemic hit, the need was just unbelievable. You had job loss, but you also had this pandemic that made it difficult for a lot of people to actually volunteer at the pantries. So a lot of smaller pantries have closed. And I'm not saying like a few like hundreds closed because they were mainly run by elderly volunteers who just could not be exposed to the virus.
So as the number of people who need food assistance is growing, the number of pantries has actually diminished. So these things are happening at the same time. Yes. And one of the reasons you also see so many people in this line is because this line serves a lot of immigrants. And so it's like, what are you going to do if you've lost your job and you have no public assistance getting in this line? You know, this is not a choice.
This is a necessity.
From The New York Times, I'm Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily Beast for the last eight months all over New York City.
I actually got up around 3:00 a.m. and when I looked, I saw the line just already.
Their lines have wrapped around food pantries.
People are going to wait like seven, eight hours just to get some groceries.
As a million city residents face new food shortages in the wake of the pandemic.
And something else. I've never seen anything like this, though. I never thought our food pantry would be something like this or they would be such a big new covid just changed a whole lot of things. It just changed our way of life. Today, as we approach Thanksgiving, a holiday defined by food, social services reporter Nikita Stewart with the story of one day at one food pantry in Brooklyn.
It's Wednesday, November 25th. So she'll. Of course, you are so loud, you are too close together.
Earlier this fall, I went with daily producers Annie Brown and Skeleton to Council of Peoples Organisation, or COPO, a food pantry in a neighborhood called Midwood in Brooklyn as other countries have closed. This one has seen its demand skyrocket.
We'd never expect to to this much. I never expected it. We thought it was you know, we were doing like 60 clients a week and now it's just unbelievable. Thousands, at least 2000.
On the line, we meet up with Mohammed Roffey, the executive director and founder of COPO, and is a community based organization that is to help our Americans and new Americans to fulfill their American dream.
Muhammad himself is an immigrant. I came here when I was about six years old with my parents, immigrated from Pakistan and grew up nearby. I grew up in the Sheepshead Bay projects in Brooklyn. My dad was running two jobs, my mother was running two jobs, and I grew up on food stamps myself, my kids also. But I worked and I worked and I worked. And, you know, I got to running five different businesses. And then 9/11 happened.
And after 9/11, people came to my stores saying, I need help for immigration services. And I ultimately gave up all my businesses. I sold it all off. And this is what I do for the past 18 years.
COPO operates out of a storefront on busy Coney Island Avenue by 10 a.m., two lines have formed on the sidewalk.
On the left to one side are seniors and first responders.
They'll be given food first and on the other side, as everyone else in a line that wraps all the way around the block, the front lines of a series of tents are set up in the street where parking spots once were in this tent that they set up, filled with boxes and boxes of fresh produce and canned goods and pallets of food.
I see some canned corn, canned collard greens, chickpeas.
It's a lot of food.
Literally hundreds of boxes and dozens of volunteers are running around getting everything organized and ready to be handed out.
So the plan for the day is as the line grows, there's going to be one, two, three, four people who are going to start to give them tickets.
Fifty five, fifty six, fifty seven.
And they say, OK, please do not lose your slip, otherwise you will lose your spot in line because that's a huge thing.
We learned she can no longer stop and give our. No, please let me let me take care of this. It's OK.
I don't want to have people fighting. I'm like, I can't believe it, you know, you guys don't fight, please.
OK, just for now. Just let it be, please. It's won one extra person right now. Just let it be so it's just starts at ten thirty. So they're going to we're going to have a team. What time is it. Is it almost five minutes. Let me go to go see where she is. I'll give you the last twenty five. Get Kelsey through the group. OK, we're going to start guys at ten thirty. After hours of volunteer prep work and hours of people waiting in line, it's finally time to give out food.
Go, guys. Here's my number one. You're number one, almost like me. Give us all this. Thank you, Audie. Come this way. One after another, people step up with their empty bags or carts and move down a line of volunteers to get the courage to grow watermelons and the beets, then the onions. And we got the cucumbers, the canned fruits, tuna and tomatoes. And then we got rice. And then we get the beans and a gallon of milk.
Oh, and we got eggs. Egg whites. Wonderful. There you go. And then you're also going to get cilantro, OK?
If people start to be served, shall we walk? Could we. We'd love to speak with some people.
OK, so let's let's talk we take a walk down the block to meet folks who are waiting. Hi there. Hi. Can you give your name, what's your name? I'm Sabira. How old are you? I'm 55. I'm unemployed, and because I was stories like a fire does, because stories filed for bankruptcy and then I was like a registered cashier. How long have you been coming here? Oh, look, I already look at six months since we found out what it's giving coming.
And what time did you get here today? Oh, no. I came here like around 4:00 and I just put my car at 4:00 a.m.. Yes, I am. To quit my car and to go home and come back 8:00. How long have you been coming here to this pantry?
About two months, about six months. Last week I came in. That's good. May I ask how old you are?
I'm 14, 14. And how long have you been coming to this food pantry? I'll say a few months, basically, because my mom, she worked at a nursing home and my dad, he used to be like a food vendor. So we had no source of income. So we had to resort to here. And it was very helpful.
And we heard this kind of stuff from nearly everybody that they started coming only in the past few months and they had to come because of job losses due to the pandemic.
I worked for the hotel housekeeper looking down at Dunkin Donuts. I sing opera. I worked at Sofus Package Department. How did you feel coming to the pantry the first time? Oh, my goodness.
I feel so depressed, like I never go to the line for food. Go. Are we working 30 years in the company working? So I said, oh, my gosh. Well, you know, that's a whole lot. What's your name? Natasha. Natasha. And how old are you, Natasha? I'm 32. When did you start coming?
So when the covid-19 started, that's that's when we started coming because my husband has lost his job and I have two kids. What does your husband do for a living? Also, he's a cab driver.
Yeah. And it was very, very, very hard for us because before I would think that food pantries is something like you, where people go, there are homeless people. But I didn't know that we as a family, we would be ever in need.
What did you see in your kitchen or what did you not see in your kitchen where you thought, I have to go to the home?
Yeah. Before, like, we were able to go to the store at any time. We want to buy any kind of snacks for the kids to have lots of vegetables, a lot of fruits, a lot of, you know, wholegrain pasta on all this. And my older one is four. He was used to going to the store with us and buying whatever he wanted. So it was it was not easy task to explain to him that, like, right now we're just not able to do that.
But slowly, slowly, he understands. And now whenever we go to the store, he's like, OK, how much is this and how much of this can we afford that?
Yeah, you talk about why you're here. What have you not been able to give them the food before your husband lost his job? Mostly fruit. Fruit. So what's your favorite fruit? My favorite holiday. Favorite food. So we were like cats a little. Yeah. They really like cantaloupe and watermelon and that's what I like. So the watermelon and cantaloupe know.
Oh, I over going to by very good quality. What time did you get here today. Oh I get like eight. Eight thirty. And how long have you been coming to the pantry. Oh this is the first time I'm coming here. Oh this is the first time I heard this is a hollow place and I'm a Muslim and I, I'd like to come here to get food. How old are you? I'm twenty five. And are you working right now?
I actually work in a Burger King and they are open right now, but I am really scared to go there because I have like old parents to take care of and I'm living in a like one bedroom apartment so I don't have a place to quarantine for them. So. So, yeah, it's a really hard time for us. I don't know how I say the word. I like it. I feel like I'm a poor person right now and out of money.
I never thought about it because I thought, like, you see the dream place where I can live my life. I mean, if it's not like wearing a mask, then I would never come. I think because of the mask, I think it's I feel like I can protect my identity. Like no one can see me and I can get come here and get food. What would you be afraid of if you if you weren't wearing a mask, why why not come?
Because, like, maybe my neighbor or maybe someone will see me and I don't want to I don't want to be in the situation to get free food because I can work. But yeah, this is the nightmare for us. But actually, I didn't know, like there would be a long line. So, yeah, I feel like now I feel like I'm not alone like that. Yeah. So my name is Stella. What's your name? I'm Maria Maria.
And may I ask how old you are? I'm 28 and I see that you have one on the way. How many months are you? Oh, seven and a half. Seven and a half almost. And you're carrying so many bags right now. Yes. Thank you.
And what made you first coming to the pantry? Because I lost my job. I was working on the daycare. I mean, we have to eat and I'm a single mother and I'm pregnant. And I said, oh, my God, I want them to do so. It was horrible for me. I mean, I supposed to have twins, but for this virus, it's like and I lost my job. So it was like the press and everything.
So I lost one. But it's so it was difficult, but now it's much better. Yeah. Thank God. And this is how I let you know what you're having. A girl. You have a name yet? Yes. Yes, it's. Oh, why. I gonna. It's Seanna.
It's a Mexican name. It's for our family.
So it means gift from the guy in the future. Maybe she could have like strong woman like right now before she born. She's like fight for the life and everything. So I think she's going to be a great woman fighter and everything. Yeah, that's what I think. What number are you on? Six hundred seventy eight point three hours to go.
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That about the food situation. Can I ask you for an update about where we are with the amount of food, what have you run out of, run out of the milk?
Milk is on its way. I ran out of the vegetables and I ran out of a whole bunch of other stuff. Yeah, this really is slim pickings. Remember when we first arrived, this whole kit was filled with food and now I have to feed boxes and boxes of canned tomatoes. But like some black behav on the watermelons with. What else would that be like? Cauliflower, carrots, potatoes.
I knew the carrots and potatoes, like just gone. All the produce is gone according to plan.
And for a lot of people, that's like the most expensive thing. Right. So like a bag of black beans we could find for a dollar or two dollars, you know, produce in very different seeing this right now, at what time is it at 220? It now gives me a better understanding of why people were here at four a.m. and people were putting their carts down at 1:00 a.m. over and over. No, no, no, no. Seems like a fight over whether or not she can have more oil.
Oh, no, no, no, no. Oh, there must be so hard.
That is is because everybody is saying, you know, they need I know everybody needs, but we got to share with. That's the objective. I'm so worried, Francisco. I'm still waiting on my milk. What are you worried about? Just get 10 pallets of milk and yogurt, which also I wanted to distribute and it hasn't time.
It hasn't come. So, you know, it happens. And so what's happened with the like? So we told them to wait because in nine minutes I should have a truck here, hopefully in nine minutes. So I'm waiting on what I know is that two 30 system where Muhammad stops the line just before two thirty to wait for a big shipment of milk and yogurt to arrive. It's now nearly four hours since the food started to be distributed.
I was already on. I was like down the block. But I want to wait here, don't want to wait for the bill, I have to be patient. Why do you want to wait for the bill? Of course. OK. It's two forty in the afternoon. The milk and yogurt was supposed to arrive at two thirty, and it's still not here. And now people are getting upset. I just need a cigarette break. You know what I would like?
I don't know what else to do.
There's just a lot of tension. And that's what I've seen in pretty much every pantry I have gone to. There is some kind of complaint or argument either between people who are in line or the people in line versus the volunteer.
It must be so frustrating to be at the mercy of whenever the food arrives. Well, here's the thing about, you know, covering poverty. What hurts me the most is like the lack of choices and the waiting. People who, like, have nothing like the waiting is horrible. I don't think people understand how valuable time is and, you know, the time you had to take. Yeah. For most of my life, I try not to think about the stuff I didn't want to think about poverty.
So most of my journalistic career, I spent covering politics and political corruption. And then in two thousand fifteen, the Times asked me if I would be interested in covering social services.
And I had to ask myself why I hadn't covered social services in all the years that I had been a reporter. And I realized that it was just because it hit too close to home. My family. Went in and out of poverty. Sometimes they're like these great, prosperous times, and there were other times that we were on food stamps and I have those memories of going to pick up my free lunch card sometimes I didn't go pick it up because I was afraid someone would see me and other kids would be like, oh, why aren't you eating today?
And I'll be like, Oh, I'm not hungry. And that was so not true. I was starving. And for the most part, my family kept food. But there were times when. You know, the food stamps run out and it wasn't the first of the month yet. And I remember this time when my mom was at work, my sister and I, we opened the refrigerator, we opened the freezer and there was very little there except for these two frozen burritos.
We had been washing the dishes, and when I went to open my burrito, it fell into the soapy water and I couldn't eat it. And I remember my sister split her burrito with me. And that's what we ate that day. And it's something I'll never forget. Just. Thinking about. That sharing and the necessity of sharing, and so it's really hit me during the pandemic reporting on the people who've been in the lives, because I think about, you know, those frozen burritos.
And there's this tendency for people like me who've experienced poverty to not talk about it, you want to forget about it like it didn't happen. But if we all keep this secret, it creates a stigma where there shouldn't be one. So I'm glad I'm able to talk about my family's poverty now. At least a little bit. Would anyone get where where's the truck? Oh, it must be down there. I have had the feeling that the truck is about to arrive for about 45 minutes after the line's gotten longer.
I know I thought it was going to be over. And then I'm like, oh, more people have shown up now. Around three o'clock, and it looks like. This is in the dairy truck finally arrives in. Volunteers get to work on loading it, and Mahomet starts the line moving again.
How do you feel now? I feel so good now. I just want to get that stuff. You know, you got to go. It's so good. But I'm not going to drink all the milk. The line is Vulcano, which they take a walk with that. So long as you know.
For another hour, Muhammad and his dozens of volunteers shepherd person after person through the line, giving out whatever they've got left.
How do you feel about what you ended up getting today? Actually, I feel really great because they gave us the organic milk, organic chocolate milk for my kids. They love chocolate milk, yogurt. It's also organic. So my kids would love that. Cucumbers are good for salad. I love that. I find this food super healthy and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here and to get the free food. Awesome. Thank you so much.
Thank you. Take care. By four o'clock, the sidewalk that had been filled with people all day is empty. It's all good. What do you say? Thank God. Thank God we were able to get everybody on the line. Yeah, yeah. I just don't want anybody to turn away. Yeah.
You know, because they're here, they need it feels good. You know, you got to be you've got to count your blessings. I mean, it's a blessing for us to be in these people's lives. You know, for me, it definitely is.
This is Ali, one of Culpo staff members. It's a big thing going on over here. I hope it continues. I really do hope it continues after December 31st, because that's like that's like the cutoff right now. We don't know what to do after that. Well, what do you mean? That's the cut off in terms of funding. This is private foundation. The city didn't give us anything. So we're trying to get money from the city to continue this, but know they're doing a lot of a lot of cuts in the budget.
So most pantries in the city operate through private funding and there are these big question marks about how they'll manage this winter when the pandemic is expected to get even worse. In the past, before the pandemic, a lot of the pantries relied on big time contributors who could give one hundred thousand five hundred thousand a million dollars. And that money has kind of dried up. I talked to this one director. He's been calling all of us big time contributors and they're saying right now they don't know what the stock market is going to do, so they don't know what they're going to be able to give.
This is all really bad news for millions of New Yorkers who are getting in line these days and tens of millions of people around the country who rely on pantries for their literal survival. You show up at a pantry and you wait for hours and they might run out of food. And if you're struggling financially, you can give up certain things. You can give up new clothes and maybe don't give gifts to your kids or your grandkids this Christmas. But you can't not eat.
OK, thank you so much for coming. Please, right this way. Let me just give my last ravioli.
Muhammad has been on his feet for nine hours nonstop. Thank you. Oh, no, thank you for being here. And he's a little worse for wear.
So should we should we take account of your your state? At the end of the day, you have a bloody finger. Oh, that's OK. You have lost voice and you have dog poop on your shoe. Oh, no. Yeah, but it's beautiful. There's no line. There's no line. All right, thanks so much. God bless the good guys. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Thank you. Hey, good morning.
Good morning, Mohammed, how are you? I'm doing good.
Thank you for taking my call. I know, I know it's a busy time.
Yes, absolutely. So talk to me. What's going on?
Well, so I guess I'll start here. So when we visited you last, it was already six months into the pandemic and people were making the food pantry into a routine. But now it's November, it's getting cold, it's getting dark or heading into the winter and the holidays. And it feels like it would be more difficult now to wait outside the food pantry for hours. And I just wonder, have you felt a change in people's mood or their approach to the food pantry as it's gotten colder?
The mood hasn't changed, but they're still in need. I don't know what's going to happen, but we're trying to purchase these heaters. You've never seen in the restaurants that you deserve attention outside. It looks like a little umbrella, right? So we get a little bit of warmth and we're trying to see how we're going to speed it up. Right. You know, we're just trying to. Yeah. Well, tomorrow is Friday, and so that is the food pantries day and will you be opening?
Yeah, we are. I've got like I'm receiving right now as we speak about, I don't know, a few hundred turkeys Thanksgiving. So I was yeah, they called me yesterday. This is more you're going to have Turkey. I said, well, thank God. You know, I was almost in tears. I was like, I know what I was going to do for Thanksgiving for the people, you know? So they're sending me a trail of Turkey and I'm like, oh, my God, it's going to be so great.
So we're going to be able to distribute it tomorrow and people can be so happy. And in terms of like because last time the line was around the block and so are you still seeing people wait around the block?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. This way. Yeah. I mean, I was just listening to the news. There's no stimulus check or nothing there in a deadlock. And it's going to be even more difficult because it's going to be finished on December thirty. First, you know, the unemployment checks just escaped. The federal government's giving. So it's really, really more stressful. What's going to happen with the people? And you mentioned that your own funding could run out by the end of the year.
Is that still the case?
Yes, for the food pantry. Still the case. And we're actually talking to our board members and our private donors trying to figure out how we can raise more funds.
You know, we need to see what happens on January 1st if you don't have more funding.
Honestly, I'm going to I mean, my staff, I'm going to ask them to be volunteers for now. Right now, I have staff almost of one, two, three, four, five, six staff members. And it might go down to like two staff members and continue on a smaller base. And we're going to just dwindle down. We're probably cut the hours less. I don't know what else to do right in. How are you feeling about those changes and sort of looking at the end of the year?
I'm very stressed out because we really don't want to stop this program at all. OK, well, thank you so much for having good luck. All right, Douglas Fairbanks, thanks for. We'll be right back. In a Promised Land, the first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama provides a deeply personal account of history in the making. Obama reflects on the early years of his presidency, navigating the challenges facing our nation at home and abroad.
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Those certifications, combined with those in Georgia and Michigan, have left Trump with few ways to block or overturn the election results. And U.S. stock markets surged to record levels on Tuesday after the Trump administration began the transfer of power to Biden and after Biden appointed Janet Yellen an advocate of government intervention in the economy as his treasury secretary.
The stock market, Dow Jones Industrial Average, just 30000, which is the highest in history. We've never broken 30000.
And the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell below 20000 points at the start of the pandemic, surpassed 30000 on Tuesday, a milestone that President Trump during a news conference called historic.
That's a sacred number, 30000. Nobody thought they'd ever see it. That's it for The Daily, I'm Michael Barbaro. See you on Monday after the hard. Better help the convenient and affordable online counseling service will match you with a licensed professional with whom you can start communicating in under 48 hours, talk with your counselor in a private online environment. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression or stress right now, you are not alone. Join the one million plus people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced better help counselor.
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