As unemployment grows, Sao Paulo Friars serve up to 4,000 meals daily

Catholic News Service interviewed our friars in Sao Paulo, Brazil about their new food distribution center dubbed “The Franciscan Tent” as a response to the growing number of people seeking food due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hunger came before the fever (a main COVID-19 symptom),” Franciscan Brother Jose Francisco de Cassia dos Santos told Catholic News Service.

Santos, who heads the Franciscan Solidarity Service, has been distributing meals to the homeless in the center of Sao Paulo for more than 13 years. The traditional solidarity service, dubbed the Priest’s Tea, usually drew a few hundred homeless people, who congregated the St. Francis rectory. Now, said Santos, the majority of people in line waiting for the Priest’s Tea are those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santos said since March 24, when the city installed stay-at-home measures to combat the new coronavirus, the number of people seeking food more than quadrupled, forcing his team to set up another distribution center to feed the population: The Franciscan Tent.


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