Image: “Light of Life Rescue Mission volunteers in Pittsburgh, Penn. distributing boxes of food and essentials from Feed the Children to hundreds of local families.”
Feed the Children, a leading hunger relief organization, has been working with its network of community partners on the ground in cities and towns across the U.S. and in the 10 countries it serves to address the ever-growing needs of those affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Seeing the situation firsthand, the nonprofit is also urging communities to continue to stand together to provide resources to their neighbors who need it most.
“During these difficult days of COVID-19, it deeply pains me to confront the reality that we find our resources—as well as those of our partners—most sorely strained at exactly the moment we are called upon to help more and more people,” said Travis Arnold, Feed the Children president and CEO. “That's why I want to encourage everyone to give back to your community today, no matter the amount. Your actions could bring hope to a struggling family or child who feels lost during this uncertain time.”
As people have united in a global effort to flatten the curve, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect many aspects of our daily lives, especially the economy. While millions of Americans are waiting to see pending unemployment and stimulus checks, many are left to wonder how they will get their next meal. Families who have never needed help before are now finding themselves in an unfamiliar reality – living with food insecurity.
To help soften the harsh truth families are facing, Feed the Children has been exploring new and safe ways to get food, water and personal care items into the hands of those who need it. Since March, Feed the Children has distributed more than 7.1 million pounds of gift-in-kind product to families for COVID-19 response, with an estimated value of more than $38 million.
In the U.S., Feed the Children has collaborated with more than 190 community partners coast-to-coast and in the heartland to provide boxes of shelf-stable food and daily life essentials. So far, thanks to its network of community partners, more than 270 deliveries have been made to help both urban and rural populations. Just a few examples of community impact are:
· In Fresno, Calif., Feed the Children worked with Cornerstone Community Care to give out more than 16,900 pounds of food, hygiene items, diapers, coffee, beauty products, vitamins and other products to Fresno area residents who have lost their jobs.
· In the heartland, the nonprofit collaborated with the Oklahoma Restaurant Association to provide more than 700 unemployed restaurant and hospitality workers with a 25-pound box of shelf-stable food and a 12-pound box of personal care items. This outreach was made possible thanks to community partners at the Crossings Community Church and the Discovery Church of Yukon. The need is so great a third event is already being planned.
· In Buffalo, New York, focusing on the elderly bound by quarantine and students who are out of school, the Buffalo Dream Center distributed more than 17,900 pounds of product from Feed the Children. The community partner also provided support to part of the 30.3 percent of homeless population in Buffalo through mobile food truck sites by giving them hot meals and snack bags.
· In Miami, Fla., Joshua’s Heart (a long-time community partner) will distribute boxes of food and essentials provided by Feed the Children and Teleperformance to 400 families, focused on elderly population and those who do not have transportation.
Through its international program work, the organization has placed a priority during this crises on three key elements of its integrated community development approach:
· Providing support to program communities to ensure access to nutritious food and ensuring food security for communities, families and children. In many communities throughout the world children are at risk for acute malnutrition therefore, Feed the Children is providing packs of food, supplemental food, and/or food rations, in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Philippines, Malawi, and others. These food packs will help children who are missing daily meals due to school closures. Leaders in each community will be on the ground to provide these resources individual families.
· Continuing to focus on healthy practices, including handwashing, proper hygiene and sanitation, as well as community awareness about COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of the virus. In Tanzania, staff is encouraging households to make and place handwashing stations at their home entrances to encourage more frequent handwashing.
· Identifying new ways to communicate with community leaders and program participants to continue to provide relevant information and support to those affected by COVID-19. In the Philippines, staff have been distributing informational health flyers and face masks to communities to help stop the spread of the virus. Feed the Children has also established regular virtual communication with most of the communities it serves.