Charles Bennicoff hasn’t worked since last winter. He’s an experienced landscape gardener but the mom-and-pop business he worked for in Allentown, Pennsylvania, cut its staff after losing most of their contracts during the pandemic.
Bennicoff, 50, now relies on a food pantry for a few bags of groceries every couple of weeks to supplement the food stamps and social security his mentally ill wife receives. He still picks up the occasional odd job but doesn’t qualify for unemployment benefits because the landscaping job was cash in hand.
It’s the first time the couple have needed food aid since recovering from drug addiction and homelessness about 20 years ago, and Bennicoff is struggling to stay positive.