At the height of the crisis in NYC, with more than 22 million unemployed on account of COVID-19 in the United States, the disorientation has been like a paralysis.
Even as I try to find a path to help, it feels elusive.
I am not a medical practitioner, nor an “essential, frontline” worker, so what can I do?
When I opened my stocked fridge this past week staring into it as though anticipating something, my stomach groaned, though not with hunger. For the past five weeks while working remotely under my roof, I had not been able to see past the nonending squabbles on TV, Zoom meetings and Instagram LIVE notifications in order to think about issues beyond my Prime account delivery delays. For example, the causes that I care for. You see, before coronavirus, for the past decade or so food sustainability and hunger have been issues that I have worked on. From volunteering, mentorship, to fundraising and more.
As our national response to the pandemic underscores, it should be no surprise that the “wealthiest” nation in the world has its share of struggles. Over 40 million people struggle with hunger annually in the U.S. and “people of color are disproportionately affected by higher risk of hunger. 22.5% of Black households and 18.5% of Latinx/Hispanic households experienced food insecurity in 2018. However, despite conventional wisdom, this is not an “urban issue” because the states with “the highest rates of food insecurity in the United States are Mississippi (18.7%), Louisiana (18.3%), Alabama (18.1%), New Mexico (17.6%), Arkansas (17.5%), Kentucky (17.3%), Maine (16.4%), and Oklahoma (15.2%).”
Given that New York City was disproportionately been affected by COVID-19, I wanted to find localized opportunities to help deliver food security. Armed with business-grade WIFI but limited mobility due to “stay at home” orders, I solicited help from friends and family on how to directly help those in need. It became clearer to me that NOW was the time to SHOW UP for those who most need our help, wherever possible.
Here are the Top 3 Ways to Give Back (Virtually or Person) during this time:
- Donate to a Local Food Bank – As unemployment surges so does the need for services provided by local food banks. These are “frontline” spaces that fulfill the needs of local communities. Most community food pantries are sponsored by local area churches and/or community coalitions. You can search by zip code for locations near you at https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank, for example
- Volunteer Your Time – If you are healthy and able, there is much to be done! From food prep to deliveries, you can make a difference in ensuring food security for members of your community. Organizations like God’s Love We Deliver are good starting points: https://www.glwd.org/
- Create a Food Drive – If you have strong organizational skills, consider organizing a food drive to help stock your local food pantry: https://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/food-drives
Will you join us?
Please share your ideas in the comments and/or on social media to help bring attention to this growing issue, while helping people find purpose during this difficult time.