NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic lined up to receive hot meals being handed out in Queens on Saturday.

As ticket vouchers were handed out to hundreds of people standing in the cold outside Sen. Jessica Ramos’ district office, boxes of food were wheeled inside by street vendors.

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Volunteers opened the deliveries and pulled out hot meals that were placed in bags for those in need.

By 11 a.m., the meals packed with chicken, rice, beans and salad were placed in the hands of roughly 200 people.


It helped Maria Pareves, who has no income coming in.

“Food is very expensive. Everything is expensive. You go to the supermarket and rarely you will find it,” she told CBS2’s Cory James.

Within 20 minutes the food was gone, sending Gabriel Iskho, who arrived late, home empty-handed.

“What can I do? I got some little food, cereal,” he said.

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This is the second time in 24 hours Ramos and a team of staffers and volunteers have helped New York families.

On Friday, they gave away 33,000 pounds of fresh milk and produce to 800 people, utilizing the state’s new $25 million Nourish New York program, which helps food pantries purchase food from New York farmers.

“Because of the hardships that everybody’s going through, there is a lot of food insecurity, and this neighborhood is a food desert as it is, so these programs, with the Street Vendors Project and with the Farm Bureau on Fridays, are really critical to bring healthy food into our communities,” Ramos said.

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It’s also critical for street vendors who are struggling to make ends meet.

“Ninety percent have stopped working, so all these people have zero income at the moment. Many of them who are undocumented, they don’t receive any support from the government so this is a great chance to make a living,” said Mohamed Attia with the Street Vendor Project.

It was a day of giving that was “handled with love and care.”

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Because so many people are facing hardships, Ramos says they will continue to give out fresh produce every Friday and hot meals every Saturday until there is no longer a need.