Coalition, church are examples of ways to act
While hunger, housing and health issues intertwine to put many people on the edge during the pandemic, they also set many caring people into action.
Family members line up in their cars to pick up food, and the food is there as organizations receive donations of both food and funds. Meanwhile, people call the city to shelter homeless and build homes as some stimulus programs end Dec. 31.
This is the season for giving and many are giving to programs that provide cheer and meals in this season, as well as to programs that serve people all year.
Many nonprofits raise much of the funding for their year-round efforts to feed, house, clothe, educate, care for, open opportunities to and comfort people, along with advocating for racial, gender, economic and social justice.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, some have formed coalitions to assist.
For example, the Spokane County Food Security Coalition formed in March with 45 nonprofit organizations, health workers, educators, direct-service providers and citizens who collaborating as an inclusive network to assure affordable access to healthy food in Spokane and rural areas, said Natalie Tauzin of the Spokane Regional Health District.
"We believe with coordination and compassion, we can feed everyone," she said. "As an integrated, multi-sector effort, we envision increased food security and improved health outcomes for the people in our community in need of food assistance."
The coalition seeks to bridge food access gaps for food-insecure people; coordinate distribution to the homeless, home-bound elderly, individuals and families with children; draw funding; collect data on gaps; inform the community of food distribution sites and delivery options; provide language translation and identify the cultural-appropriateness of food offered; uplift stories of people facing food insecurity; foster equitable food distribution, and reduce stigma around those who need food assistance.
For those interested in helping, the Spokane County Food Security Coalition meets virtually from 1 to 2:30 p.m., second Thursdays. For information, call 324-1659 or email email@example.com.
In addition, congregations like First Christian (Disciples of Christ) in Clarkston are serving meals. The church serves 100 meals a day—1,500 meals a month—to homeless and poor Lewis and Clark Valley residents through its ministry, the Red Door Kitchen.
"Our community experiences significant endemic poverty and chronic homelessness," said David Carringer, pastor.
With COVID-19, food insecurity is rising in Asotin County, he said, estimating that 200 school children experienced some form of homelessness this year.
"This number is expected to increase when the eviction moratorium lifts. In addition, about 100 adults are consistently homeless," David said. "These circumstances negatively impact their food security.
"The pandemic reduced the number of volunteers and donations, but homeless people still look to us for food as other food sources of cease to be available," he added.
Volunteers have been serving well-rounded, carry-out meals daily since March 25, reducing anxiety about food insecurity and improving guests' health, he said.
For health and food security, the church raises funds and seeks grants to buy food so they can provide both lunch and supper free. The funds also offset operating costs. For information, call 509-758-2943.
"We are serving God and living out Matthew 25:40-45—feeding Christ by feeding the hungry," said David.
These efforts of gratitude and generosity are replicated many times over throughout the region and world.
Mary Stamp - Editor
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, December, 2020