The French food producers helping hospitals
Ross Cullen in Paris

In France, a smoked meat producer that was about to open its first delicatessen has been forced to put its new venture on ice due to the lockdown.

But the staff are now diverting their resources to make food for hospitals and help the healthcare workers at overstretched medical facilities.

Cafes, bars and restaurants in France have been closed now for nearly a month.

It is forcing many to rethink how they can put their skills, recipes and kitchens to use as the pandemic continues.

The staff at Will's Smoked Meat in Paris are doing just that.

Making sandwiches for hospitals in need and using their tried-and-tested recipes to make good food for the staff and patients on the frontline of the pandemic.

William Benitah is the owner of the meat producer and describes how the idea came about.

"I know a worker at one hospital and she said we have a big problem with supply.

"So we decided to give them some meat and to produce some sandwiches, around 500 sandwiches - that's around 50 to 60 kilos of pastrami."


'We don't refuse anything'

The bread for the sandwiches comes from a baker who says he has also been hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

"Economically speaking, we have lost half of our customers and around 50 percent of our turnover too," Herve Guillaume tells CGTN Europe.

"Now, customers only buy bread and they no longer buy from our catering or pastry dessert services so our company has been severely affected."

Once the food has been prepared at home it is then delivered to the hospital directly where the logistics manager could not be more grateful.

"Our supplier normally provides for the entire Parisian public hospital network and they've been out of stock too.

"These donations saved us, to provide food for the staff. Of course, they need to eat, and our patients too.

"We receive daily donations from different companies. We take everything, we don't refuse anything."

Shut out of traditional markets and having to close their own cafes and delicatessens in town centres, fresh-produce vendors are now having to adapt to provide for a new market and unexpected customers.

Doctors and nurses have been working overtime during the pandemic, dealing with sick patients and people who are dying, all while facing what has been a shortage of medical equipment.

Community efforts like this demonstrate the efforts made by other sectors to show solidarity and help out France's over-burdened healthcare system.