What One Community Did to Fight Food Insecurity Amidst the Pandemic
The pandemic changed the way we do just about everything. With schools closed, community programs derailed, and millions of workers sidelined, COVID-19 highlighted the weaknesses in communities across the U.S. Food insecurity (lack of access to sufficient food because of limited financial resources) across the country rose significantly, according to the Pew Research Center and Feeding America estimates that 45 million people (1 in 7), including 15 million children (1 in 5), may have experienced food insecurity in 2020.
Just east of LA is Boyle Heights, home to almost 100,000 residents, many of whom are considered a vulnerable population. “We knew going into this situation one of our biggest challenges would be providing food to our most vulnerable community members—seniors, the homeless, and the undocumented,” reflects Community Integration Executive at Adventist Health White Memorial (AHWM), Cesar Armendariz. “It all started with a simple question: ‘What can we do right now?’,” Armendariz says. With the support and collaboration of community partners like the Weingart East LA YMCA, their goal was to provide food security and wellness checks to seniors, the homeless, the undocumented, and families in Boyle Heights and the surrounding area.
The community has distributed about 1,000 bags of food per day and has provided basic needs for families throughout the year. John Schroer, Global Missions Manager at Adventist Health says, “This is providing the basic nutrition for families that wouldn’t be getting it.”This is providing the basic nutrition for families that wouldn't be getting it. —John Schroer, Global Missions Manager @AdventistHealth Click To Tweet
“It doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s insurance, someone’s ability to pay, where they live, socioeconomic status—this is just something that is accessible to anyone,” explains Elizabeth Rodriguez, Community Information Center Coordinator.
This display of community support and unity is not isolated to just Boyle Heights. From Barry County, MI, to Fort Worth, TX, throughout multiple Blue Zones Projects spread across the country, and in communities across the world people have come together to help one another in difficult times.