'I can't afford to live': Philadelphians who depend on free food program line up in Kensington

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The stories of hardship from people in need of food during the coronavirus crisis are eye-opening and heartbreaking as the city continues to hold free food pick-ups twice a week.

Lucila Cresvo was first in line Thursday morning to receive food in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, an area where hardship is well-known.

"The line gets too full. I did it last week," said Cresvo. "It's better to come early."

Cresvo arrived an hour and a half early this time and was ahead of hundreds of others who were there for the city's food giveaway at Kensington and Lehigh avenues.

The location is one of the dozens of food sites across the city open on Mon. and Thurs. each week from 10 a.m. - noon due to the coronavirus crisis.

"It's a little bit scary for us. Too many people are dying and families are suffering and it's painful," Cresvo said.

James Wilson, who was also in line, understands the struggle.

"Economy-wise I can't afford to live," Wilson said.

The challenges are hard to accept, but the fruits and vegetables given out Thursday will help.

"It's there for us, the assistance. It's just you got to get up to do it and when you're scared of the virus, it's hard," Wilson said.

"It's important for me and my family. In a time of need like this, a little bit helps every family, every community," Cresvo said.

The system works by providing one box of food per household, which turned out to be 402 families fed at the Kensington site.

"There's no checking of ids, no request for information of any kind," said Ed Riehl, founder and president of the Delaware Valley Fairness Project.

"The food issue is unbelievable. We cannot keep up with the demand for food," Riehl said.

He said his organization focuses on trying to eliminate poverty by providing educational, financial, and nutritional resources for the community. It's a goal that has become more difficult, but Riehl said it isn't out of reach.

"I'm hoping too that the virus situation passes quickly," Riehl said.

Anyone with questions about other services being offered across the city is encouraged to call 311 for information.
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