As Manchester’s restaurants and hotels closed and other businesses shed workers in March, immigrants were among those who suddenly found themselves out of work.
Right as the coronavirus hit and people started to lose their jobs, Sarah Jane Knoy of the Granite State Organizing Project said she and other immigration advocates started to hear about people running out of food.
“We’re just uncovering this huge need for food because people who are undocumented do not qualify for stimulus checks or unemployment or any other services,” Knoy said.
People needed food, Knoy said, but some immigrants did not feel comfortable going to food pantries outside their communities. Some do not know how to ask for help and other worry about heightened anti-immigrant sentiment as the virus spreads.
So the Centro Latino, a drop-in center established in the basement of St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish last year to offer support to Spanish-speaking immigrants, quickly transitioned to a food pantry.
The Granite State Organizing Project, Welcoming New Hampshire and other immigration advocates and church groups have been working together to keep the pantry running, and several different organizations have donated food.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, volunteers drop off canned beans and tomatoes and measure out rice from 25-pound sacks. Then, one at a time, people come into the church basement to pick up food.
“It’s been quite a remarkable collaborative effort and an expression of solidarity,” said Rev. Samuel Fuller, St. Anne-St. Augustin’s pastor. “But it’s sobering.”
More than 60 families had signed up to pick up food on April 23. The pantry sees different families every week, Knoy said, but the numbers are growing.