COVID-19: The Bigger Picture

The fourth essay in the COVID-19: The Bigger Picture series in partnership with Thomson Reuters Foundation, the essay and photos documents the impact of working people in the midst of the pandemic

Autumn is coming to Southern California, where crowds of visitors normally would have been heading to arts festivals and celebrity events, and chef Nigel Henderson would have been making his living as their caterer.

Not this year.

The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Greater Palm Springs, where he works as a private chef, was cancelled after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coachella events alone would have earned Henderson as much as up to 40% of his year’s income.

Then Henderson’s monthly series Rhythm and Brunch LA, with DJ Trauma, comedian Dave Chappelle’s DJ, was cancelled. A fundraiser for the Dooky Chase Foundation was cancelled, and Kampalooza, a yearly outdoor cooking and camping experience, was cancelled.

“Initially you figure, yes it’s serious, but we will get a handle on it,” Henderson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But the coronavirus, the cancellations and the closings have some people in Los Angeles’ huge hospitality industry lining up at food banks, breaking into their children’s piggy banks and skimping on baby diapers to stretch their dollars.

Most just do not know how they will survive the dark months ahead.

Read more of the essay, here.