“One of the things I love about our Princeton community is the diversity,” said Cecilia Avila, coordinator of Arm In Arm’s Princeton pantry. “But it is hard to see some people being hurt by this crisis more than others. Our undocumented neighbors are especially hurting right now.”
While most people experiencing the pain of layoffs and furloughs resulting from COVID-19 have the opportunity to apply for unemployment, undocumented residents that normally work in critical services from healthcare to construction do not. Nor can they look forward to federal stimulus money appearing in their bank accounts or mailboxes. Instead, these families rely heavily on groups like Arm In Arm to fill the gap.
According to Cecilia, “We are serving our clients twice a month. Right now we have more than 340 families and we are adding new families to our list daily. A huge challenge now is that we are not able to offer the same variety of food we are known for.”
“We have access to less fresh produce for our clients. We also have not been able to locate Maseca corn flour. Many of our Central Americans clients have called and asked for Maseca specifically. It’s a staple in their household and we cannot locate it anywhere, even to purchase.”
Despite the obstacles, Cecilia has been heartened by the continued support she has seen for Arm In Arm’s work in Princeton. “I’m very grateful for our volunteers,” said Cecilia. “They are always willing to help us. That’s another great thing about this community. We are here for each other.”