Ben Curtis Family Foundation
Kent, OH 44240
Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging
In addition to the seven senior centers, the Rose Centers for Aging Well also operates a Home Delivered Meals program for home-bound seniors. Participants receive a hot meal delivered to their door Monday through Friday and frozen meals on Fridays to provide meals to eat over the weekend. Hot meals allow the older adults the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal upon delivery. Frozen meals provide the older adult a choice in mealtime and can be easily prepared.
The Rose Centers team had to work diligently to juggle the new logistical demands presented by the quick closures. The seven senior centers serve the greater Cleveland area: adding additional seniors to the program required expanding delivery routes across the city, creating new delivery routes and recruiting volunteers to assist the already burdened staff to deliver the meals.
Prior to COVID-19, the Rose Centers delivered an average of 14,000 meals a month. Since the start of the pandemic, the Rose Centers deliver an average of 20,000 meals a month. With the increased need for home-delivered meals came an increased need for additional food delivery trucks, additional truck maintenance, truck drivers and delivery staff. To accommodate the increased demand for meal deliveries, the Rose Centers now rents three U-Haul vans each week, adding to the fleet of 8 meal delivery trucks owned by the Rose Centers.
The second solution to ensure access to vital services for all our older adults was the implementation of Weekly Wellness calls to provide reassurance and address three key Social Determinants of Health: Food Security, Healthcare/Medication, and Economic Stability.
About the time the older adults were becoming secure with their nutritional needs, the seniors started to voice their concerns of loneliness and isolation. A Brigham Young University study found prolonged social isolation is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. To ease the effects of social isolation, the Rose Centers staff began planning programs such as telephone Bingo, caravan car parades, virtual art classes, outdoor chair yoga and jazzercise, and parking lot parties to lift spirits and assure the older adults that we are still here for them and that we miss them too. The reactions from our older adults were heart-warming. The older adults were over-joyed to see and interact with staff and their friends through these socially distant and virtual activities.
Our "aha" moment was hearing the impact first-hand from one of our participants, Karen White. Mrs. White is a retired English teacher who taught in the Cleveland Public School system for 20 years. Six years ago, Mrs. White suffered a mild stroke resulting in memory issues and mental confusion. There are days when planning or cooking is not within her abilities. Mrs. White lives alone, and her relatives all live out of state. "I seldom have the energy to plan, shop and cook my own meals," Mrs. White said.
If Mrs. White was not a participant at the Rose Center, she would only have enough food to eat one meal a day. Mrs. White is grateful for her meals and the smooth transition to the Home Delivered Meals program when the senior centers were closed. "It is an incredible luxury to have your meals delivered to your home. The Home Delivered Meals program is my safety net if my kitchen supplies are low or if I am not feeling well. I always know I have a healthy meal in my freezer," Mrs. White said. Mrs. White's sentiments are representative of what we have heard and witnessed among many of our older adults.
Our work to ensure seniors have continued daily access to nutritious meals was supported by TRIO Community Meals and the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA). These two partners were instrumental in our adaptation to providing home-delivered meals.
TRIO Community Meals operates our kitchens, cooks the meals and packages the food for delivery. TRIO Community Meals was supportive and stood by our side as we made it a priority together to ensure no senior was left without food.
The Cleveland Foundation's Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and Meals on Wheels America mobilized quickly to support the Rose Centers for Aging Well. Their generous support and belief in our mission enabled us to not only continue serving our seniors in need but expand our reach and provide meals to more seniors in Cleveland during these challenging times.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland
Cleveland, OH 44102
The problem is that Cleveland has a poverty rate of 31.3%. Nearly 20% of Cuyahoga County residents are considered “food insecure,” which describes a household's inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. Through this developed a vision and an opportunity. Sister Rita Mary Harwood works in our Diocesan Department for Parish Life and Development. She does a great deal with prison outreach in the Diocese of Cleveland. The Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center downtown Cleveland serves more than 2,000 meals a week (carryout style during the pandemic) and serves 30 families per week in its food pantry program.
The solution/result of the vision was our CEO Pat Gareau and Sister Rita Mary. Catholic Charities supplies seeds to Grafton Correctional Institution, which is a state prison for men located in Lorain County. The facility houses a maximum of 2,074 inmates at a mix of minimum and medium security levels. The men at Grafton tend to and harvest the vegetables. Sister Rita Mary drops off an average of 10 boxes of vegetables every Tuesday for use in Cosgrove’s hot meals and food pantry programs. The program will continue as long as weather cooperates.
The aha! moment was the idea that we can utilize our prison outreach resources to give meaningful work to the incarcerated men at Grafton. This is beautiful way to help those in need, very much in line with the mission of Catholic Charities.
The staff and volunteers look forward to the delivery every Tuesday. They unload the vegetables and then our kitchen coordinator Angie Oatman and food pantry coordinator Althea Van Horn separate and store the vegetables for their respective programs.
Catholic Diocese of San Diego
San Diego, CA 92112-1831
With the shelter in place order our food panties were forced to shut down. Individuals were being laid off, losing their jobs and they needed food.
Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego (CCDSD) developed the Emergency Food Distribution Network Plus (EDFN+) to provide high-quality supplemental food to individuals and families, in a safe, effective, and reliable manner that complies with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. CCDSD transformed its traditional brick-and-mortar food pantries into 21 mobile food pantries, enabling the agency to bring low-barrier food services to the communities that need it the most.
Our approach to emergency food distribution is simple yet powerful. Every person, without regards to national, ethnic, socioeconomic, or religious background, can sign up for assistance online. All clients requesting assistance talk to an outreach coordinator to confirm the date and time for their drive-thru food pick up or home-delivery, and no one is turned away. By operating drive-thru food distributions and home-delivered food packages, CCDSD has quickly and exponentially increased the number of men, women, and children served. CCDSD has provided over 751,125 pounds of food, equivalent to 625,938 meals according to the industry standard, to the most vulnerable - all in just 16 weeks.
Sitting in the Board meeting on March 12, 2020. The discussion was about the pandemic that was coming. The fear was the actual pandemic, but also what the most vulnerable, the people we worked with, were going to do for food for the next few months.
Looking back now at lessons learned – the plan was “a few months,” now the EFDN+ will be our food pantry model even after the pandemic is over.
It will take the most vulnerable 18-24 months to recover from the economy shutting down for 3 months. We will be here working with partners and collaborating to do whatever we can to live our mission.
Catholic Charities is working with the San Diego and Imperial County Food Banks for sood supplies, Feeding San Diego for rescued food, and our amazing volunteers! Since April, 827 volunteers have donated 11,519 hours to help run this program.
Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center
Cleveland, OH 44106-4319
When the pandemic began, many deaf people in our community became especially isolated and vulnerable to food insecurity.
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center staff reached out to the deaf community through video phone, text, and sign language video blogs on social media to let them know we could help with groceries and other basic needs if they were cut off from other resources.
Deaf families in need could come to our Community Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing to pick up groceries, or we could deliver them if they lacked transportation.
As our food pantry was quickly depleted months into the pandemic, we realized that many people in our community would be eager to help if we let them know the needs of the deaf community.
We organized a "Drive & Drop" campaign that allowed people to safely donate non-perishable foods at our four office locations without leaving their cars. Staff audiologists, speech-language pathologists, deaf advocates and community volunteers helped staff the drop-off locations to collect donations.
The program has drawn amazing support from our community, with many local businesses and local media sharing the event and chipping in to donate groceries to stock the pantry.
Mentor, OH 44060
Crossroads Health clients and their families were unable to get the food they needed. Crossroads Health has an all-embracing client base from before birth to seniors. Covering services of metal health, addiction, and recovery. So, this effected many different people on many different levels.
How do we make sure our clients get the food they need?
This affected all of our departments, so we knew this had to be a team effort. Pulling together Therapists, School-based Providers, Crisis Team and Supportive Employment Services, we formed a plan that our Case Manegers would need to put in to affect. The Case Managers would contact any clients that were in need of food or any supplies and deliver them to the client's door step.
This involved working close with our local churches and food banks to coordinate what our clients needed and where would be the best place to find those resources. This has been going on since this pandemic started and will continue to go on to all our clients' needs are met. In addition to that Crossroads Health has a garden at one of its locations. We were able to grow vegetables in our garden and pass them out to families in need.
When there is a mission to save people in need, there’s no stopping Crossroads Health or our community. When you have a problem as large as the Covid-19 pandemic, it affects everyone in its own way. So, more people want to help because they can relate with the struggle. It truly is an honor to work with the super heroes of Crossroads Health.
Local churches, food banks, and all the departments at Crossroads Health.
Cultivate Food Rescue
South Bend, IN 46613
Our mission hinges on rescuing food that has been prepared but not served, often from caterers, dining halls, or sporting events.
In mid-March and early April, at the beginning of the pandemic, these businesses were forced to shut down, and the events that made up Cultivate’s food supply chain were canceled. At the same time, thousands more people were food-insecure and in desperate need of our services.
We needed to find a way to access food in a new and different way so we could continue to provide thousands of nutritious meals per week to the hungry in our community.
Cultivate Food Rescue Co-Founders Jim Conklin and Randy Z got together with dozens of local agencies, ranging from food pantries to local branches of the United Way, and combined our resources. We created the St. Joseph County Emergency Food Initiative and set up weekly phone calls to make sure we weren’t wasting any food. This opened up new avenues of food rescue, and we hope these partnerships will continue for years to come.
Many of the organizations involved might be seen as competitors by those on the outside, all vying for the same funding. But we discovered that we are stronger when we work together, and we can provide a more comprehensive service to those who are truly in need.
The food-insecure in our community are not falling through the cracks, and food is not going to waste.
Career Academy, St. Vincent dePaul, Purdue Extension, Garatoni Foundation, Ivy Tech Community College, University of Notre Dame, enFocus, REAL Services, J2 Marketing, Beacon Community Impact, South Bend Regional Chamber, United Way of St. Joseph County, Stanz Foodservice, Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Asante Foundation, St. Joseph County Health Department, Clay Food Pantry, South Bend School Corporation
EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute
South Bend, IN 46613
Our Butcher Shop has quickly become both a convening space and a critical location for healthier food options than have existed recently in Buckeye, traditionally an underserved food desert. We accept SNAP benefits to ensure everyone can provide for their families. The demand for our meat, bread, pantry staples and grocery items has never been higher.
To better serve the needs of Buckeye and ensure that our neighbors, many of whom live below or near the poverty line, we have recently expanded our grocery offerings and made a renovation at our Butcher Shop to have additional coolers and retail space.
Our expanded offerings directly benefit families throughout Cleveland by providing food security without price gouging. At a time when grocery stores have barren shelves and limited choices, we have been able to leverage our relationships with many vendors to provide eggs, milk, flour and other household essentials. We also make our bread, pastries, and prepare our Butcher Shop’s meat options daily, so we can provide both Buckeye residents and our students with access to the items to keep their families healthy.
EDWINS is committed to providing access to healthy food at reasonable prices for our students and community. We recently renovated a portion of our Butcher Shop to provide even more essentials including flour, sugar, eggs, milk and bread.
This quick transformation was necessary so we could build the capacity to serve the increased demand for these essentials. Our students, primarily returning citizens, will have access to both food options and keep receiving their stipends to provide for their families. Our case manager also remains active with all our current students and our alumni to ensure that any barriers in their lives can be removed.
Since our alumni work in an industry that has been decimated by COVID-19, we strive to help them receive unemployment or search for temporary as well as permanent work.
Our neighbors in Buckeye will have access to affordable, quality, healthy food choices during a time where grocery stores and other retailers are struggling.
Among our frequent shoppers at the Butcher Shop are the elderly residents from neighboring apartment complexes, many of them have utilized our delivery services or curbside pickup for easy access to the essentials they need during these trying times. We remain committed to Buckeye and its continued revitalization will not be stopped under these circumstances.
Our aha moment at the Butcher Shop was early in the pandemic when our neighbors came to us to say that they could not find household essentials and pantry staples. Realizing that we could provide flour, sugar, eggs, milk, bread and more at a time that grocery store shelves were barren, we immediately leapt into action. Due to our relationships with restaurant purveyors versus grocery store supply chains, we ensured our supplies were always in stock.
EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute, EDWINS Bakery and EDWINS Butcher Shop.
Family & Community Services
Ravenna, OH 44266
Family & Community Services, Inc. (FCS) operates Mobile Meals in Portage, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties. This program provides home-delivered and congregate meals to seniors and disabled individuals who are facing food insecurity and hunger. When the governor ordered the closing of all congregate sites in March in response to COVID-19, all thirteen of our congregate meal locations were shut down, leaving 700 of our clients without a daily hot meal.
Because Mobile Meals also operates home-delivered meal services, we were able to switch our congregate meal recipients to the home-delivered program using our same drivers and delivery vehicles. We had to quickly reroute our regular delivery routes; adjust our food prep procedures to accommodate for the increase in packaged meals; and come up with procedures to safely serve meals to at-risk populations like our seniors and individuals with disabilities who receive meals from us on a daily basis.
Within a matter of days, our congregate meal recipients began receiving a meal delivered right to their doorstep, to be enjoyed from the safety of their own homes.
Our “aha” moment came from the quick and thoughtful leadership of our Executive Director, who was certain that no client of ours would go hungry during such a time of need. After hearing the Governor’s closures, he directed staff to determine how we could transfer all congregate clients to the home-delivered program, and when.
We soon found that we were short a few vehicles and drivers, so we temporarily borrowed staff and vans from Family & Community Services’ Transportation Program to help out. Thanks to the direction and determination of our Executive Director, all 700+ of our congregate meal clients were offered a home-delivered meal, and services went without interruption.
In the early days of the pandemic and the Governor’s closures, Mobile Meals staff worked closely with our Executive Director and other leadership staff to determine a plan of action. Thanks to the extensive array of programs under the Family & Community Services umbrella, we were able to get help with delivery vehicles and drivers using resources from FCS’ Transportation Program.
We also teamed up with our local food pantries, Kent Social Services, and the Center of Hope, who were also affected by the closures and working to offer a drive-through meal service. We worked with our local health department as well to obtain guidance for best practices on food handling during a pandemic. By putting our heads together, we quickly came up with a plan of action for obtaining PPE, getting the word out to clients, and ensuring our health and safety protocols were in place to protect both staff and meal recipients during this unprecedented time.
Feeding Medina County
Medina, OH 44256
When children on Free and Reduced lunches no longer could get a weekend bag of food from school and elderly volunteers were forced to stay home and not pack and deliver the food, suddenly there was over 1,000 children who faced hunger due to the Covid pandemic.
With a unified effort driven by Feeding Medina County, a new set of resources were deployed.
With the help of the Ohio National Guard, Medina County Sheriffs, and Medina County Highway Patrol packing food for 1,400 children in Medina County never missed one week.
Then in an even more amazing effort each bag was home delivered by personel in seven school districts every single week. Children received bags with 5 meals, 4 breakfast items and snacks every week and all summer long. The project continues to feed children both at school and those remote learning as we stay flexible and make sure no child goes hungry.
We went from despair of “How would we do this” to WE CAN DO THIS when the National Guard, local law enforcement and school districts stepped up to help and make sure children would get fed.
National Guard, Highway Patrol, Sheriffs Dept., seven school districts, local Rotary group and Feeding Medina County Staff.
Lake Forest, IL 60045
With current pandemic the problem has been three pronged.
- Soup kitchens and shelters have closed due to the pandemic making our meals requests increase to more than double our annual
- We use borrowed kitchens and with the closures of the kitchens and facilities, we do not have a regular kitchen to cook and deploy meals form
- As restaurnats closed, more food needed a home and/or was wasted
- Kitchen: we have been lucky to have a few closed restaurants and faciltiies that are closed opened their doors for Fight2Feed to operate
- Meals: because we were able to use the full facitly, we were able to make and share 41,000 meals in 22 weeks
- Food Rescue: because we had the access to restaurants and facility with storage, freezers and coolers, we were able to rescue over 300,000 pounds of food in 22 weeks to share with our community!
AHA! If we had our own kitchen to work from, we can manage 10 times what were were producing and sharing annually before the pandemic!
We are 100% volunteer managed and operated organization. Our partners are small local pantries, soup kitchens that continue to serve their clients outside their norm and food distributors who continue to call us before food goes to waste.
First United Methodist Church of Marysville
Marysville, OH 43040
So many people do not have enough to eat in our community! I would think that with the major industries that we have in Marysville, people would have plenty but that is not the case. My heart aches for the hungry people!
I’ve been anonymously donating canned goods to our Church who have been collecting for the Hope Center & the Marysville Food Pantry, both are nonprofit organizations.
I heard the message while on hold to Westfield Customer Care Center about the donation that Westfield is giving & realized this is a fantastic opportunity to help my community feed more people!
First United Methodist Church of Marysville has challenged us to donate food items as part of us being the Body of Christ helping less fortunate ones around us!
Healing Warriors Program
Fort Collins, CO
Food insecurity exists on an ongoing basis with our Veteran population. It is a standard assessment question when our clients come in for their appointments so that we can act immediately to provide gift cards for food, supplemental nutrition we keep at the clinic through donations or to connect them with resources.
When COVID hit, we were forced to close the clinic for 5 weeks, leaving our already vulnerable clients at an even greater risk. Veterans are a proud group of individuals, so uncovering those needs are a challenge.
We implemented Telehealth immediately, and began an outreach call system to connect with all of our clients. We assess their situation and provide them with any additional food, safety, and wellness options that we had available. But this wasn't enough.
We started making calls, asking for donations, and created a list that covered PPE, Emergen-C, food, protein bars, and gift cards and started assembling care packs for our clients who were in need. Over 300 boxes were filled and shipped, along with letters from grade school children to not only address the physical needs but the social isolation.
We will be holding a drive through donation drive next month as we occupy a bank building in which the bank no longer operates, so why not put the drive up lanes to good use and create no contact donation opportunities. We serve over 1500 Veterans and their familes, and they all deserve to feel safe, secure, connected and remembered.
The clinic staff, donors and volunteers did whatever it took to help. We have made this an ongoing mission to help keep our Veterans safe and supplement what needs we can.
Cleveland, OH 44113
Many of our residents were not getting enough fresh and healthy produce. While many of our hunger centers were providing the shelf stable items for emergency food supplies, most could not supply fresh produce due to expense and having access to large quantities.
We partnered with Perfectly Imperfect Produce, a local company that sources imperfect yet fresh produce from local farms and wholesalers and delivers them to subscribers in our area. The team helped to develop produce boxes that were designed for families of four and for singles.
These produce boxes contained items that would not spoil quickly. This included potatoes, apples, broccoli, onions, zucchini, oranges, peppers, etc. We coordinated with hunger centers on quantities and delivery times so they were distributed that same day. All while maintaining social distancing and safety.
Perfectly Imperfect donates to our hungers centers already and is a strong supporter of rescuing food. They had a system in place for delivery and ordering, so it made good sense to work with them during this crisis and help out even more to provide a necessary supplement to emergency food supplies.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce.
How to keep our volunteers and clients safe while continuing to provide food to those more in need now than ever.
We are in the basement of a church so no windows were available.
When our planned work smoothly and we have not had to be closed.
The Board and all the great volunteers who stepped up to help out!
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Cleveland, OH 44113
Lawyers can help solve legal issues that are barriers to food for families. There is not “right” to counsel for people when they face food insecurity - and Legal Aid, a private nonprofit, works to ensure legal representation for when people need an attorney to access food assistance.
While low-income and vulnerable families grapple with reduced work hours, job loss, lack of access to food, and the threat of eviction, they also face the added challenge of navigating the system to access benefits in this unprecedented time of need.
For many Ohioans, applying for food stamps involves numerous long, drawn-out calls - and waiting periods that unjustly prolong their need.
Legal Aid solves issues of hunger through its unique role of providing related legal services, advocacy to address food insecurity, and partnerships for legal information/education.
Solving hunger through legal representation: During COVID-19, our attorneys continue to assist those in need by guiding them through the complicated and often frustrating process to access basic needs, like food stamps.
In April, “Michelle” (name changed to protect client privacy) applied for public assistance benefits but was denied and did not understand why. Michelle was in her third trimester of pregnancy and had been out of work since February. A Legal Aid attorney reviewed her case and discovered the problem was the result of a language barrier that caused a her to not get benefits. The legal team successfully advocated for the Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) to reconsider Michelle’s case, and she soon began receiving benefits - an important food assistance - as well as back payments. Michelle had a healthy baby in May and is happy and hopeful about the future.
Legal Aid partnered with the Cleveland Food Bank, the Center for Community Solutions, and an independent policy analyst to form the Benefits Access Initiative, an effort that is working to increase efficiencies and reduce waiting periods related to applications for Ohio’s food stamp program.
Solving hunger through system issue and policy advocacy: Legal Aid addresses underlying societal inequities by advocating for changes in local, state, and national policies, including those related to public benefits. In addition, Legal Aid attorneys play leadership roles in statewide and national policy groups and participate in community coalitions.
The abrupt onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March compelled Legal Aid’s already responsive staff to quickly adapt and develop strategies to meet the increased demand for services on the horizon. While our physical offices closed to the public indefinitely, our staff seamlessly transitioned to remote work and continued offering meaningful programs and services for our client community. During this time, we also saw firsthand the incredible dedication of Northeast Ohio’s civic, philanthropic, corporate, and non-profit communities, which was so inspiring during a time of unprecedented challenge.
The efforts of our nearly 60 in-house, full-time staff attorneys are reinforced by a devoted group of volunteer lawyers from throughout the region who lend their time and expertise to our client community. The Cleveland Food Bank and The Center for Community Solutions are Legal Aid’s partners in the Benefits Access Initiative.
We also partner with countless other area social service organizations, non-profits, and government entities to achieve our goals and serve more people in their time of need.
Martin's House & Barn
Ridgely, MD 21660
There was not enough protein at the local food pantry. Nearly four years ago, Martin’s House and Barn asked Trey at Harborview Farms if he could get protein for the pantry as they were consistently running short for the folks that came to the pantry. Trey only grows field crops so I told them that all I could do was donate money…
Trey reached out to Mountaire, and they agreed Trey could purchase wholesale priced chicken. In doing so, he was able to triple the purchasing power of every dollar. The first month was 1,000 lbs in the first order and they requested. They asked for 2,000 lbs and once a month. Trey called 12 folks that he does business with two see if they would donate in a type of monthly sponsorship. It equates to a $500 donation. The Harborview Farm team picks up the chicken at Mountaire and delivers it to Martin’s House every month.
Getting 12 sponsors took a total of 30 minutes, and we have had a wait list ever since. They have since added a whole bird component for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Nearing the end of the fourth year and had to double the order a couple times this year due to Covid. They are anticipating that the whole bird order is going to be much larger this year due to the pandemic.
May Dugan Center
Cleveland, OH 44113
The onset of Covid-19 created a variety of problems for the near west side of Cleveland. The May Dugan Center (MDC) is a multi-service center that provides a holistic approach to serving the community.
“May Dugan Center made it so easy for me to just get my life back together,” said Keith, a MDC Education Resource Center and Substance Use Disorder client. “All you gotta do is show up and have a willingness to change and to be better. If you’re trying to do something positive with your life, this place can help you.”
The problem is that MDC had to halt its daily operations and pivot our programming during this pandemic so that we could safely serve the 6,500 people we help each year through our 6 core programs. In abiding by CDC guidelines MDC reimagined how to serve our community’s most marginalized and vulnerable members.
Our food program clients, for instance, often fall into two categories:
- older adults or those with disabilities on a fixed income
- working adults who struggle to make ends meet
Both of those groups have been affected by the pandemic and subsequent economic impacts.
With the onset of the pandemic, the MDC was quick to adjust core programming to meet community needs and to work with community partners to ensure barriers were removed from accessing services.
Our most notable adjustment was to shift our in person food distribution to a drive thru distribution that also provided walk up access by appointment, and delivery to seniors and people at high risk of contracting the virus.
The drive thru distribution was not an easy task; logistics were challenging and it required collaboration with community partners like The Cleveland Police Department. The 2nd District Police Department stepped right up to serve by blocking off streets and directing traffic helping to provide a safe and much needed service.
The day Governor DeWine mandated business closures, and other closures to prevent the virus from spreading. We knew our clients could not afford an interruption in service. They needed food, behavioral health services, and case management support. Education could not be put on hold. As a team, MDC pulled together and made sure client needs were put first.
While we remain in this crisis, we have served more people than in any other year. Our food program alone has seen exponential growth. In all of 2019 we served 135,000 meals in total to roughly 5,800 people. In 2020 through the end of September we have already served almost 300,000 meals to over 15,000 people.
Through a partnership with Matthew 25 ministries, MDC distributed much needed PPE and COVID testing. At a time when testing was limited and barriers stood in the way of our community accessing COVID tests, MDC served as a catalyst for the community. Bringing together existing partners and some new partners MDC conducted a one day testing site and PPE distribution that saw close to 200 tests and 1,000 bags of personal hygiene distributed. These bags were filled with valuable Proctor and Gamble products including Always, Crest, Gillette, Old Spice, Pantene, Secret, Tampax, Tide, Pampers, Dreft and Oral-B, plus basic PPE including gloves and masks.
The incredible part of the story is the organizations that stepped up in creative ways to support. Key Bank took a unique spin by offering to purchase all the Girl Scout cookies that could not be sold to give away at the drive. The Girl Scouts were facing a huge loss because cookie sales support troops throughout the year with community service, field trips and character education. KeyBank asked May Dugan Center to distribute 12,000 boxes of cookies to food clients. KeyBank's donation also put a smile on people's faces.
For the PPE distribution, MDC is proud to work with its community partners to ensure our communities safety and health. These partners include: Cleveland City Councilman Kerry McCormack and Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell, and in collaboration with Matthew 25 Ministries, Exclusive Services, P&G Disaster Relief Program, Quest Diagnostics, and Tina Knowles Lawson. We continue to work with other community partners like The Cleveland Foundation, The City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County to make sure barriers are removed for all people.
Medina Creative Housing
Medina, OH 44256
On March 24, 2020 all of our programs and transportation shut down. Residents lost their jobs and income. We realized that we needed to focus on the nutritional needs to our residents with disabilities who suddenly became housebound due the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medina Creative Housing quickly responded by utilizing its Grande Café & Roastery to prepare, package and deliver at no charge, healthy, nutritious meals, 7 days a week, to our residents who did not have access to food as a result of the quarantine.
We partnered with Hope Church to secure food donations from Sysco, and Lodi Family Care Center to share the cost of transporting the food from the Akron-Canton Food Bank.
The food was used in resident meals, and each week we delivered boxes of fresh fruits, vegetables and staples to our residents in need. We also went shopping for those who needed groceries and went to the drug store for medications for our residents.
To prevent boredom and behaviors we delivered weekly activity bags to each resident with books, puzzles, movies, videos, art supplies, crafts, blankets, pajamas and slippers, etc. We are still delivering meals and activity bags today to those considered too high risk to return to programming or work.
We realized that delivering the meals and activity bags added much needed personal contact and support.
When COVID-19 hit, jobs were lost, schools closed, libraries closed, some food pantries closed, and the Cleveland Food Bank was having a hard time find volunteers to continue its full operations.
We knew that the people Medworks serves with free health care, via mobile clinics, were going to be hard pressed to feed their families. At the same time we were concerned that the neighborhood groceries and restaurants might struggle to stay open, which would result in additional lost jobs and food deserts.
Medworks has a strong base of donors and volunteers who were asking, "How can we help?"
We asked them to help fund a COVID-19 Relief Fund, where Medworks used 100% of the funds raised to purchase gift cards from local restaurants and groceries to distribute to people in need.
Medworks partnered up with 30+ non-profit partners all across Cleveland. These non-profit partners helped identify local restaurants/groceries to invest in and helped hand out the gift cards to those they knew were struggling.
Medworks raised more than $90,000 that was invested in gift cards from 35 different local restaurants/groceries, and provided more than 10,000 meals to families, refugees, elderly, new/expectant mothers, homeless, and more.
Medworks was able to go back to partners for multiple rounds of food assistance. This food was supplemental to any food being received from the Food Bank, and allowed people to have choice, culturally relevant foods and hot meals. This was a win-win for the local restaurants/groceries as well as people in need. This aligns with Medworks core belief that food is medicine.
In addition, Medworks used a portion of the funding to deliver food to front line hospital workers who were dedicating their time caring for COVID-19 patients.
Medworks is perfectly set up to act on this model quickly (we had it up and going 4 days after state shutdown). Our healthcare model we use allowed us to also quickly deliver the meal gift cards, fundamental to health. We were able to engage our stakeholders in ways that played to their strengths. Donors and volunteers helped fund the relief efforts, and rallied new donors to do the same.
Our partners quickly got on board with identifying local restaurants/groceries and people in need. They know pockets of the community well. And we were able to serve those who struggle to make ends meet as well as thanking healthcare workers, both populations that we work with regularly at Medworks mobile clinics.
30+ community non-profit partners, 30+ local restaurants/grocers, donors (existing and new)
Mercer Street Friends
Trenton, NJ 08611
After the start of the pandemic, the need for food tripled in our backyard in Trenton, NJ.
Roll up our sleeves and pack food bags for Mercer Street Friends. My son and his two friends spent Thursday mornings this summer packing food bags for the local community.
We were at a Zoom church meeting one Sunday when one of our members reported on the increasing need for assistance at our local food pantry in our backyard.
My son and his two friends worked on a weekly basis at the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank to support the community.
Nutrition Development Services
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The pandemic created a shortage of food and other supplies for families in Philadelphia.
The staff of Nutritional Development Services (NDS) collaborated with other non-profits and other partners to distribute meals and diapers to families from our office center.
The "aha" moment was assisting parents with children in tow who came by foot for the diapers and meals.
NDS worked with The Philadelphia Diaper Bank, Mitzvah Circle, Project Isaiah (airline catering workers who put emergency meals together) and the USDA.
People in Need of Delaware County
Delaware, OH 43015
PIN operates a food pantry serving Delaware County Ohio. We also provide assistance to prevent eviction and utility disconnections, as well as help with prescription medications, dental care and eye glasses. With the advent of the Covid 19 pandemic, the financial situation for many county residents took a significant downturn.
Access to food became a significant issue for many.
PIN made significant modifications to our operations to maximize the service we could provide. Food distribution was increased from once a month for a food order to once a week. Distribution switched from a choice pantry to a pre-pack drive through model. Steps were taken to protect both our clients as well as the staff and volunteers dedicated to helping them.
When we looked at the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019 we saw that there was a 36% increase in the number of meals provided.
Mid Ohio Food Collective, the United Way of Delaware County, The Delaware County Foundation, as well as may local businesses and countless individuals. All pulled together to provide this essential service.
Cleveland, OH 44109
Unable to meet with or help transport people to get food and needed supplies for 1,200 people that Recovery Resources cares for who have a mental illness and/or addiction diagnosis.
We requested donations from our supporters and the COVID rapid response fund and raised $17,000. We worked with Amazon, Walmart, and Sams Club to purchase non-pershiable food. Each week we prepared an average of 60 grocery bags and our care coordinators delivered food to more than 720 people.
Many of the people we care for have trouble navigating their life on a good day. They don't have transportation to get to a food bank or wait in line for needed supplies. Our "aha" moment was the important role the people who work at Recovery Resources and the care and concern they provide for those enrolled in our treatment services.
Amazon, Walmart, Sams Club, Keybank, Wells Fargo, COVID Relief Fund through the Cleveland Foundation.
Second Baptist Church
Medina, OH 44256
Schools were shut down and breakfast and lunch was no longer being served at the schools. We opened up our church for breakfast and lunch to go to try and help the community. We also expanded our food distribution on the last Friday of each month, plus we put together a back to school back pack supplies.
Children that were used to getting free breakfast and lunch at school could now come to the church and eat for free. Food bank supplied many of people with meals.
People getting fed and were able to spend their money on bills and not food.
Smart Development Inc
Lakewood, OH 44107
Families who are refugees, immigrants, or even limited-English speaking individuals who’ve lived years in their community but use items to make meals that represent who they are struggled and continue to struggle during the pandemic as so many other families do.
Families who have dietary restrictions (halal or kosher) are not familiar with the types of canned foods or products offered in the masses at pantries leave growing diverse neighborhoods at increased risk for hunger and food-insecurity. Families whom previously have tried to obtain meal boxes or go to pantries often find products that they cannot consume and or don’t know how to use. The issue makes it even more difficult for families who have limited English and can’t discuss their needs and circumstance due to lack of language-access.
Our solution was to create culturally relevant food boxes that we would deliver weekly to ensure families can stay safe at home but get the food they need to thrive and be healthy. The boxes would include kosher and halal meats and culturally relevant options to ensure they can cook familiar items!
We worked with a local ethnic grocery store that is certified in halal and kosher food and meats and they aid us in the ability to get the items weekly.
Since March 22nd, we have been delivering boxes filled with culturally relevant food options to families in need. On average, we deliver every Saturday 50-75 boxes to families in need ranging from the elderly, families with children, and simply low-income and at need families overall. Options we include are: halal/kosher chicken and meat, lentils, cooking oil, potatoes, white rice, mango juice, tomato sauce, Middle Eastern and Asian spices, okra, garbanzo beans, and more!
We have local volunteers who joined her effort from local mosques, moms, teachers, students who due to COVID are out of school- this is an entirely Muslim led volunteer effort. We drop off the boxes to the houses to ensure they can receive the items as many lack proper transportation. To date, we have delivered over 1,600 boxes of culturally relevant food!.
Being an organization comprised of refugee, immigrants, first-generation Americans who we all as volunteers, staff, and board know all too well as most of us are Muslim (by birth or conversion) the difficulties that lie with the dietary restrictions we have while also being low-income.
Many of us grew up struggling and still struggle as the average community resident trying to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Our “aha” moment came when one of our board members talked about how he would make cultural food boxes for his neighbor when they resettled next door to help make them feel comfortable and welcomed by someone who also understands their needs, coming from the same background.
The local stores we worked with include: Al-Madina Imported Foods Halal ( 11550 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH 44111) and Rumi's Market and Deli (8225 Carnegie Ave, Cleveland, OH 44103). Both are Immigrant owned and are Kosher/Halal grocery stores! Their efforts to provide the products of goods to us as well as work with the clients we identify in need to obtain culturally-relevant options made it much easier to support those in need but also was a gratifying moment to be able to help local immigrant-owned businesses remain open during the most difficult times during the pandemic!
Business were critical in our work while aiding in solving food-insecurity across Cleveland, were civic engagement partners in getting the count out for the census and voter registration! Every bag and box and purchase made with the gift cards we provided to clients or the boxes of food we put together they worked hard with our guidence to make sure not only can we make sure to get healthy food options available, but their voices are heard as well!
St. Mark's Church
Philadelphia, PA 19124
“Dining with Dignity” sit down meals began a few years ago when someone identified a problem: a church soup kitchen without a cook. The pandemic created new problems, but that did not stop anyone.
My friend, Cristina, heard that the man who cooked for the church soup kitchen fell ill and was no longer able to cook. She literally went home and cooked a meal and brought it to church to feed the community members in need. That was just the beginning.
It wasn't enough for her to simply provide some food. She organized a team of volunteers who created "Dining with Dignity." This amazing group of volunteers cook and serve a home cooked meal several times a month. Each "guest" leaves not only with a full belly but also with a bagged meal for later and a feeling of love and support.
Cristina makes sure that each person that comes for a meal knows that they matter. Cristina and the "Frankford Friendlies" are the most amazing people. Whatever the need is they rise up to fill it.
When the pandemic created restrictions, this grassroots group of volunteers had to change from sit down hot meals in the church to bagged meals that are handed out outside in the church parking lot.
Seeing Cristina interact with the people she serves in the community inspires me to do more to help others. She is truly the most generous person I have ever met.
United Way of Greater Toledo
As schools shut their doors and companies laid off employees, COVID-19 left thousands in Toledo uncertain about where their next meal would come from. In March, United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral service received over 3,000 calls requesting food assistance. This is about triple the average number of monthly calls for food assistance.
Nonprofits had to pivot their services to safely serve in a new environment and did not have the financial or volunteer resources to continue serving at the needed level leaving communities underserved. Local meal providers for children, including Toledo Public Schools, needed to ensure students reliant upon free & reduced meals had access to food they were no longer receiving at school.
Given the sudden announcement of school closures, over the course of four days, United Way 2-1-1 worked with meal providers to set up a reservation system so they could ensure meals were available in the right quantities at different meal sites.
Over the course of seven weeks, 2-1-1 received over 55,000 meals reservations across 25 sites in the Greater Toledo Area. United Way of Greater Toledo worked to communicate the rising need and acted quickly to organize an Emergency Response Fund dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of Toledo area residents throughout the pandemic.
$1,117,290 has been raised for the Emergency Response Fund as of September 28, 2020. United Way of Greater Toledo took on community-wide coordination of food related services and invested $270,000+ from our Emergency Response Funds and leveraged 1,700+ volunteers completing 16,000+ hours of service resources to food access organizations and projects.
Cross-sector problems need cross-sector solutions. When a community is educated on the needs and given the opportunity to help, they rise to the occasion to take care of one another. We cannot make change alone, but United We're Strong and with the help of generous volunteers, donors, and community service partners we are overcoming the challenges facing our community.
25 Community Based service partners: Toledo Grows, Food For Thought, Lutheran Social Services of Northwest Ohio, Brown Bag Food Project, Mosaic Ministries 4-1-Dine, Down Syndrome Association, ProMedica Ebeid Institute, Mareda Center, Sofia Quintero Arts & Cultural Center, YMCA of Greater Toledo, First United Methodist, Greater Grace Christian, Mobile Meals of Toledo Inc., Perrysburg Heights Community Center, The University Church, Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center, Church of Truth Ministries, St. Vincent De Paul's, Washington Local Schools, Co. Mission Toledo, Hope Community Church of the Nazarene, Toledo Public Schools, Connecting Kids to Meals, Breakfast Meals, Adopt-A-Family
Walsh Jesuit High School Foundation
For 14 years the Walsh Jesuit community has delivered food and fellowship to the homeless in Akron every Monday evening. During COVID19 the students have not been able to participate…
BUT a small group of volunteers continue the Monday tradition with the help of many families donating meals, drinks and necessities. In August we partnered with another family to provide 60 meals which included two sandwiches, fruit, cheese, granola bars, nuts, cookies, fruit snacks and more! It was a project our children executed with love and compassion!
West Side Catholic Center
Cleveland, OH 44113
Over 50% of children in Cleveland live in poverty, and at least 1 in 6 residents experience food insecurity. Families rely on food programs through schools to meet their needs, but these programs are not available when school is closed.
These numbers have only gone up since the onset of COVID-19. Of the 182 summer food programs listed in Cleveland by the Ohio Department of Education, only 2% have Saturday hours. None have Sunday hours. Since COVID has forced schools to start the school year remotely, schools have meals available that are not getting to families in need.
The West Side Catholic Center's Family Engagement program began offering a meal on Friday night and bags of food to-go, complete with recipes, to feed an entire family for the whole weekend. Traditionally this program has run only during the summer, but this year has been extended into the school year to assist families that are unable to access meals through the schools.
We are picking up boxes of unused frozen meals from schools and distributing them to families in need. We receive and distribute 600-1,200 meals each week to families with a combined 120 children.
We were notified of a school that was going to need to dispose of boxes of frozen meals because their students weren't picking up the food and they ran out of storage space at the same time we were figuring out how to extend our summer program into the school year to offset increased food insecurity.
A local parish, St. Francis de Sales, made us aware of the available meals from a local charter school. St. Martin de Porres High School has made freezer space available for the 60-120 boxes each week. Each box contains 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches. Staff and volunteers deliver the meals to families who cannot make it to the West Side Catholic Center on Fridays.
Western Reserve Area On Aging (& EDWINS)
Cleveland, OH 44114
Recognizing COVID-19 has pushed many people in Northeast Ohio into food insecurity for the first time in their lives, Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA) developed The Circle of Food and EDWINS Butcher Shop and Bakery cooked, packaged and distributed the meals.
This is a robust partnership helped serve individuals in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties. Volunteers, local young adults, EDWINS students and alumni joined together to guarantee that the meals were delivered on time, safely and of the highest quality.
During our first day of preparing meals, the word immediately got out in our neighboring communities. Numerous people came up to the Butcher Shop’s door looking for meals and that helped shine a light on the reality that our neighbors are facing during this pandemic.
EDWINS, Gordon Food Service and the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA) teamed up over the last six weeks to provide over 40,000 meals as part of the Circle of Food program.
Williams County Habitat for Humanity
In our small town community located in Northwest Ohio, we watched as our partner families began making tough choices on allocation of their income to cover all of their very real necessities, food and shelter. As the pandemic came upon us, some of our families also had to figure out how to obtain the much needed food for their tables.
One of our local farmers, Schlatter Famers stepped up and offered to supply each family with wonderful gift of pork. Working together with local volunteers of our Habitat affiliate, a care package was delivered to each family consisting of the pork, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, antibacterial spray, other goodies and a note of encouragement.
This event took place at the beginning of the pandemic in March. The families felt the love of the community and the reassurance that help will be available through the kindness of others. Watching the faces of the families as they received the gift packages was so very encouraging.
We were told that this food will help them pay other bills including utilities and housing. As the schools were being shut down, and we were all living with such uncertainty, this small act of generous kindness truly blessed and encouraged many during a very challenging season.
Volunteers of Williams County Habitat for Humanity coordinated all the items which were delivered to the families.
It’s Time to Vote!
The stories have been submitted and now it’s time to vote through November 25. Click on each box below to read how each non-profit has been thinking outside the box and is trying to solve food insecurity. Once you have read the stories, take a moment to vote for your favorite. The top 10 stories will each receive a $5000 donation from the Westfield Insurance Foundation to the non-profit involved to continue providing meals, supplies and support to those in need. Together we can feed more families. So let’s.
*Only one vote per device will be counted.
Solving for Hunger
There are many ways to help solve hunger. We can all play an important role. From sharing an inspiring to stories to boxing up food to donating a dollar -- whatever works for you, we welcome you to join us. $1 helps to provide at least ten meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.Donate
Solving for Hunger
There are many ways to help solve hunger. We can all play an important role. From sharing an inspiring to stories to boxing up food to donating a dollar -- whatever works for you, we welcome you to join us. $1 helps to provide at least ten meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.Donate