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What we learned about food insecurity in Austin from launching Stay Home, Stay Healthy

May 10, 2021

When we started delivering produce and food staples to food insecure families at the end of 2019, we could never have imagined what 2020 would hold. A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable families are being squeezed even tighter as many parents and providers lose jobs, their children lose access to much needed school lunch programs, and those with health vulnerabilities lose safe access to the outside world.

Last March, we started tackling these issues by launching Stay Home, Stay Healthy. Our vision for this initiative was to join forces with Austin-based food banks such as Central Texas Food Bank and Hope Food Pantry, while using Good Apple’s partnerships with local farms and delivery abilities, to begin serving vulnerable families on a much larger scale. A program that started with 35 core families quickly expanded within the first few weeks of the pandemic to reach more than 1,400 families a week.

Those 1,400 families and many others have been experiencing an extra financial squeeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them have had to endure losing jobs as the economy shut down, childcare options as schools shut down, and support networks as everyone entered new isolation patterns to protect themselves.

All of this means some of our neighbors with health conditions that have made them most vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus have also had to choose between buying food for their families and the medication they need to stay healthy. “I am struggling to survive paying bills and find a new job. One of our clients told us, “This really made a huge impact and kept food on the table for me and my family.”

For those organizations like Central Texas Food Bank and Hope Food Pantry who are an essential resource for food insecure families, COVID-19 presented new challenges as well. In addition to unprecedented need and the additional restraints on transportation and travel, they had to redesign their systems to keep their staff and volunteers safe from potential spread within their facilities. Under pressure to limit hours and work with a limited staff while dealing with larger than ever volumes of food needed, Good Apple was able to partner with Capital Metro to help them get food to families in need. We’ll talk about this partnership, and others that have made everything we’ve accomplished in the past year possible, in a future blog.

So far, the Stay Home, Stay Healthy program has made 27,283 deliveries of well-balanced, nutritious organic produce and shelf-stable pantry items directly to those 1,400 families. In total, that’s 736,641 pounds of food that makes up 572,943 meals for families who would otherwise have to choose whether to risk their health to pick up food for their families.

One of our clients said of their first delivery, “I loved the feeling of security it gave me. Knowing I’m able to be safe at home, [while being delivered enough] healthy foods that I don’t have to worry about being able to feed myself and family. I also had the opportunity to try a vegetable that I’ve never eaten before.”

Families in need are most often able to access shelf-stable goods like canned food through food pantries, but need an easy, reliable way to get fresh produce too. We’re proud to have strong partnerships with other Austin organizations doing good to expand our impact on our local community by delivering even more than fresh produce to the doors of those in need.

if you’re interested in helping out today, you can donate here, or the best way to support us is by purchasing a subscription box to Good Apple! Proceeds from each of your orders goes to help deliver more goods to families in need near you.