When the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting our region in March and individuals lost employment, many struggled to make ends meet and to provide food for their families.
Fortunately, our region has a strong network of food pantries and feeding programs that rallied quickly to provide support, and the Foundation rapidly deployed grants to help these organizations increase their capacity. For example, the Thrive food pantry stepped up quickly to extend their hours, staying open an additional ten hours per week, and they adapted their services to provide drive-through pick up of food. Through its Hunger Fund, the PACF provided a $5,000 grant to Thrive to help cover increased food and operating expenses. In March, Thrive assisted 259 clients. This number jumped to 628 in April.
"It was really great to see the CRI staff all work together to keep everything going," said Thrive Director Melissa Ogden. "I think one of the most memorable stories would be about the sweet lady who called us in tears scared to go to the store and didn't know how she would be able to get food. We told her that we would bring food to her, so we took her 'order' and food was left at her door. She could not believe that we would do this for her."
The PACF also provided a $4,620 grant from its Hunger Fund to Children's Home Society (CHS) to provide food boxes and cleaning supplies to youth in its transitional living program, which serves young adults transitioning out of foster care. CHS staff worked with local retailers to buy large quantities of fresh meat and vegetables, along with shelf-stable items, which provided these young adults with enough food to create 7 days of meals for their households. One youth was so excited to receive a gallon of milk after not having access to milk for several weeks, that he said, "I could just hug you all!"
"We agreed to an air hug because of social distancing," CHS staff reported, "but with it came a lot of laughter and smiles all because of a gallon of milk, something that most of us likely take for granted in our weekly shopping list."