As the seasons changed, so did all aspects of our lives, everything was flipped upside down seemingly overnight. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous amounts of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear throughout our communities. Everyone is adjusting to living in the “new normal,” which has diverted businesses, non-profits, governments, and residents from their plans and piled on more stress than we are used to shouldering.
ACTION Grab n Go hot meals being prepared by Cultivate Cafe and Kitchen Incubator staff.
For the March Moment of the Month, we want to take time to reflect on where we are, the challenges ahead of us, and the efforts that Healthy Community Partnership-Mahoning Valley (HCP-MV) partners have organized to face these some of these challenges head on, specifically addressing barriers to food access.
Partners of HCP-MV immediately sprung into action responding to the crisis by providing support and service to each other and residents in our communities that most need it. Partners have been doing their best to respond and continue to look for innovative ways that HCP-MV partners and our network can, as Mr. Rogers instructed us, look for and help the helpers.
From early on in shifting landscape of the world in the time of COVID-19, HCP-MV members have had ongoing weekly conversations about how to work together and share resources to support each other in direct service efforts. So many of the partners in the HCP-MV network have organized new or adapted existing programs to respond to the dramatically increased need in our neighborhoods to access healthy foods. This was a significant concern before and has been amplified since many residents find themselves facing additional challenges due to school closures and temporary business closures that have resulted in lost jobs, wages, and so on.
Barriers to food access faced by residents in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties were already overwhelming, and the swift changes taking place have amplified them ten-fold, especially for residents of color, low-income families, and seniors. HCP-MV partners acted quickly to respond directly to these new and evolving challenges by organizing grocery or food delivery for seniors; organizing hot meal preparation and delivery for seniors and individuals who have additional health concerns; providing food and other household essentials to residents in need; assembling healthy food boxes for pick up/delivery; and recruiting volunteers to help with all of the above.
Multiple organizations are involved with all of the above, which again amplifies and emphasizes that we are all in this together and the health of ourselves depends on the health of our neighbors. Hopefully, by capturing these moments in such a dynamic and ever-changing world, we can celebrate the strength we find in working together towards a common goal, even in times of crisis.
Here are a few photos from food focused emergency response efforts that occurred in March-April 2020 to help residents affected by COVID-19 related changes.