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.