Theresa Tejada says her East Village neighborhood has been through a lot the past couple of months, the result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"A lot of people dying, family members and neighbors, no work, no money, we're struggling right now," says the longtime resident.

Tejada's family is one of around 500 each week taking advantage of emergency food distributions at the Sixth Street Community Center, which was founded in 1978 in what was then an abandoned synagogue.

When the coronavirus crisis erupted, they pivoted to support the needs of a community where one in five residents is not sure they will have enough to eat. 

"Lots of people have lost their jobs. People are really choosing between paying for rent or paying for food for their families," says Sixth Street Program Director Jen Chantrtanapichate, who notes they are really working to ease that burden on their neighbors."

The center, which also offers youth programs and other services, isn't receiving city funding for this: it's the result of donations and help from groups like City Harvest and neighborhood mutual aid networks. Volunteers help to prepare the fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution.

"It's a really difficult time right now," says colunteer and freelance music writer Goldi Guerra. "A lot of these people, I mean, they are all my neighbors, but a lot of them I recognize as friends also," added Guerra.

Sixth Street is doing other programs virtually for the timebeing, but staying in contact with those who benefit from their services.

"We want to support the families during this time. We've been reaching out to them and checking in, letting them know about our food distribution and other projects we are working on," says Youth Program Director Laura Langner. 

Sixth Street hopes to do this for as long as needed, which is good news for folks who are often forced to make tough choices.

"I'm not working right now and I am not getting income," says Theresa Tejada, who notes that the little money that she does get has to go towards paying the rent."

Longtime East Village resident Judith Echevarria says she would like the coronavirus to just be over.

"I would like it to finish already, and I would like the kids to go back to school, and I would like it to be normal already," says Echevarria.