Addressing COVID-19 Related Food Access Issues
In response to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on families, individuals, and community organizations, the HealthPath Foundation shifted grantmaking dollars to help address community needs across our 36-county service area. Grants were awarded for up to $10,000 to organizations addressing community needs in the areas of food access, housing and shelter, caregiving services, and overall healthcare.
In this grantee spotlight, we feature four organizations that received COVID-19 funding to support food access needs in their communities.
50 North: On May 11, 50 North was able to start its Curbside Café pickup allowing anyone 50 and older to pick up a hot lunch Monday through Friday. Their meals range in cost from $1, $3, or $5 per meal depending on an individual’s financial position and vary weekly. While serving the community, 50 North staff take every precaution to keep people safe. Employees have their temperatures taken upon arrival and wear facial coverings and gloves. Staff responsible for preparing food are stationed 6-feet apart and wash their hands every 15 minutes.
“It's a good meal and there isn't a near comparison that I have found that matches 50 North’s food. My wife is sick, and I care for her but do not cook much. Thank you, 50 North, for this service,” said Ted Morrow.
North American Indian Cultural Center (NAICC): HealthPath funding allowed NAICC to purchase canned goods, cereals, produce, and meat for individuals living in Columbiana, Holmes, Mahoning, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties. Many of the organization’s clients are concerned about going out in public because they are older, have underlying health issues, or they are struggling to keep up with the increased demand for food in their households while maintaining other household expenses.
One female NAICC client, who is over the age of 70, was still managing a family-owned restaurant until the state’s mandated shutdown. The restaurant wasn’t equipped to carry out, so this client was out of an income and denied unemployment because she didn't make enough money. While she receives some social security, it goes towards medicine, a house payment, and other expenses.
When NAICC told her they would bring her groceries, she said, “I was used to getting meals at the restaurant, and have been watching how much I eat at home so I won’t run out of food and then have to spend money I don’t have.” NAICC says that is helping individuals like her that make it all worthwhile.
The Leipsic Community Center: Funding from HealthPath allowed the Leipsic Community Center in Putnam County to provide breakfast to the elderly, shut-ins, non-school age children, and adults in need this past spring. In addition to offering breakfast on-site on the organization’s patio, the center also provided food delivery services. The organization provides breakfast Monday through Friday, and also provides a free community meal every Thursday. Both these services have allowed the Leipsic Community Center to serve an average of 875 people per week.
“Since we started these services, we have seen so many people and businesses come forward to offer their assistance whether it be monetarily or simply volunteering their time,” said Kristen Pickens, Director, Leipsic Community Center. “We received a message from a mom saying that her 14-year-old son would like to donate all his money to us for our meals. She said that our actions and our service have inspired him to give to others as well.
“We also have one elderly gentleman, Jack, who we deliver breakfast to every day, said Kristen. “At one delivery he left us a handwritten sign that said, ‘thank you’, and was surrounded by hearts. Jack has Parkinson's and for him to have made that sign would have taken him a very long time. The sign brought tears to our eyes.”
The Salvation Army: As one of the largest distributors of food baskets in our county, HealthPath funds have allowed the Salvation Army to continue to provide non-perishable food, frozen meals, and other essential items to those most in need. The organization makes regular purchases from the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank every week with an average order weight of about 3,000 pounds. HealthPath funding received not only allows the Salvation Army to meet the immediate need of feeding their most vulnerable neighbors, but it allows them to continue to meet the need in the coming months as the pandemic continues to affect the lives of those they serve.
“As we have continued our weekly food distribution, we have seen many individuals and families receive assistance who have never received assistance from us in the past,” said Lt. Andrew Allen, Corps Officer, The Salvation Army. “One particular family, a family of seven, is a weekly recipient of a food basket. Each week that they come through our distribution line, they are always extremely thankful for the help that they receive.”