In late March, an executive order was placed in New York to close all nonessential businesses and schools across the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Declared as the epicenter for the virus in the United States with the majority of reported cases in New York City, it was important for residents to stay at home. For some, the state was simply on pause. However, for the more than 1.7 million New York residents who live below the poverty line, it left those suffering from food-insecurity feeling uncertain about their future.
How will they put food on the table? Families living paycheck-to-paycheck needed our support more than ever. And the Buffalo Dream Center – one of Feed the Children’s community partners - was there to help.
Throughout the rise of the pandemic in America, the Buffalo Dream Center, a well-known ministry in Buffalo, New York, has been the boots on the ground helping thousands of families in their community receive the food and daily essentials needed during the COVID-19 crisis.
Focusing on the elderly bound by quarantine, homeless, and students who are out of school, more than 17,900 pounds of product from Feed the Children have been provided to distribute to families who need it most. Volunteers from Buffalo Dream Center have gone door-to-door to various homes to provide approximately 9,000 residents with not only food and essentials, but also hope.
Hope, especially for a family dealing with not only food-insecurity but also an unexpected COVID-19 diagnosis, makes all the difference.
“We delivered food to a local veteran who was diagnosed with COVID-19. They were in total isolation and had no food left in their house. Upon receiving the donated food and resources, his wife was so overcome with emotion that she cried. It’s a tough situation,” said Eric Johns, Senior Pastor with Buffalo Dream Center.
One part of the nonprofit’s mission outreach is making sure the homeless population has the food needed for survival. With more than 30% of Buffalo’s population living without a stable home, Buffalo Dream Center knew they had to step in. Through their efforts, they have helped the homeless population with mobile food truck sites, giving them hot meals and snack bags during the pandemic.
“A few of the soup kitchens and shelters have closed or cut back their ability to help, so we have been giving people who are homeless the ready-made meals. Some have access to a microwave and others have been eating them cold but at least it is something for them to eat,” said Michelle Johns, Senior Pastor with the Buffalo Dream Center.
The ministry is also tutoring almost a dozen children in their after-school program who are not thriving at their “distance learning” schoolwork. When they are tutored, they also serve them snacks and give them shelf-stable food to take home provided by Feed the Children. They have also paid special attention to the state’s frontline workers by delivering care packages to local hospitals and police departments that deal with high-risk populations.
Buffalo Dream Center’s selfless work on the frontlines is the reason why Feed the Children’s mission can be carried forward during these uncertain times. Community partners are Feed the Children’s arms and legs on the ground to deliver food and essentials to families. We cannot do it without them. It is a great reminder that we are all in this together.