Quarantined and Hungry: Is the Health Department Larder Empty? 1893

The Alleged Condition of Some of the City's Wards
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Word was conveyed to an Eagle reporter today to the effect that many of the wards of the city who are quarantined because of the discovery of infectious diseases in their houses, were literally starving, and that this condition of affairs was due to the inattention of the health authorities. The reporter found Dr. R. C. Baker willing and ready to answer questions. The doctor would not admit that any of the quarantined people were starving. "That's all nonsense," he said. "Why, we sent them all food today, and they had a two days store delivered on Tuesday at their homes.

"What did you send them today, doctor," asked the reporter.

"Well, the food may not have reached them yet, but it has been ordered. Let me see: To each family we sent five pounds of stewing meat, one peck of potatoes and three loaves of bread."

"Nothing else?"

"Oh, yes. Some of them have been asking for milk and we sent them today one can of condensed milk each."

"Anything more?"

"Nothing." Then Dr. Baker considered a moment, "There was one woman," he added reflectively, "who wanted tea. She was nursing a baby and Dr. Callaghan said she ought to have some. Of course we don't propose to supply them with the luxuries of life and don't supply sugar or butter as a regular thing. In fact we have never given them any butter and I can't remember that they have been sent any seasoning. No, we don't give them pepper, salt, or such things, we take it for granted that they have these things or they can borrow them from co-tenants in the tenement houses that are quarantined. We don't supply each family with food, but only where it is necessary. The department had no authority until two days ago, when Commissioner Griffin had an interview with Mayor Boody, to spend, any money to feed these people, and we have been doing it on our own responsibility. We send them what we think they need."

The city is at present furnishing food in a half hearted, irregular way to 151 people. Many of these people are fed worse than paupers. Of the quarantined there are 75 in the house at 31 Front street, where a case of typhus fever was found: 36 in a tenement house in Atlantic avenue, 10 at 102 Twenty-first street, 15 at 104 Twenty-first street and 15 at 94 Twentieth street. The tenants at Front street are Italians and the order for their food is given through the lessee of the house. They are well fed and Captain Eason has general supervision of the supply. Salt pork, corned beef, stewing meat, potatoes, bread and condensed milk covers the variety of supplies sent to the other unfortunates who are imprisoned in tainted houses. These people are not allowed to leave their homes and the breadwinners of each family are usually among the sufferers.

Commissioner Griffin this morning indicated that it was the duty of the local inspector to make a daily visit at all quarantined houses in his district and ascertain if the people were suffering. There is one woman, with five small children, at 101 Twenty-first street. She complained yesterday to Dr. Callaghan that she was practically starving. The salt pork did not agree with her children and they wanted milk, but could not get it. She is nursing a very small baby and some tea was sent to her as a great concession. She got no sugar. The family's supply for today consisted of the chunk of stewing beef, the three loaves of bread and the peck of potatoes. That must serve her and her children two days, according to the official calculation.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Quarantined and Hungry: Is the Health Department Larder Empty? 1893
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Eagle February 23, 1893.
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