How you can help during COVID-19

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Part of what makes Minnesota such a special place to live is our desire to help one another. We’ve seen it time and time again—as a need arises, the community works to meet it. We know that together, we will get through this. Together, we can make a difference for our neighbors, and our neighbors can make a difference for us.

The economic impact
The economic impact from COVID-19 is far reaching. From hourly workers losing their jobs to small business owners struggling to pay expenses, the country is seeing widespread financial loss. For some, this impact is great and their immediate needs are going unmet.

How the economic impact affects Neighborhood House
As we see a spike in need at our food markets, we do not have the supply to meet the demand. Our food rescue donations from grocery stores are becoming minimal and our food market shelves get more bare each day. During a time of the year that is traditionally light on donations, we are struggling to meet the needs of our community with COVID-19 thrown in the mix.

March Food Drive, our annual food fundraising drive designed to help counterbalance a time of year with lighter donations, is seeing a decrease in both food and monetary donations due to the closures of many of our partner organizations (workplaces, schools, places of worship) who traditionally fundraise significantly during March Food Drive.

How Neighborhood House is continuing to serve participants
We know that hard-working families who are living in poverty, including seniors and children, will be hit hardest during this time of economic downturn, reduced or eliminated work, and school cancellation. At the same time, we feel that Neighborhood House must be part of the global effort to create greater social distance and slow the spread of coronavirus.

This is why we have temporarily altered the way our food market functions. Instead of having participants walk through and shop, we are providing curbside pre-packaged emergency bags. We accept walk-up and drive-up pick-up. Food delivery is available for high-risk families and those in quarantine. We will continue to adapt our food market and how we serve the public as the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve.

How you can help
There are many ways you can help both Neighborhood House directly and those we serve.

Don’t overbuy
Overbuying at the grocery store means that less food is available to be donated to food shelves. These donations are not an insignificant part of a food shelf’s inventory.

Overbuying puts added stress on grocery stores who are struggling to restock their shelves, creating a stressful atmosphere for staff who are working hard during the pandemic to make sure people can get what they need.

If you can, avoid buying WIC items
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are food benefits given to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. WIC-recipients can only purchase WIC-eligible foods with their benefits. Items that are WIC-eligible are commonly marked with the “WIC” symbol on the price sticker. If these items run out on shelves, recipients will be unable to use their benefits to purchase much-needed food. If at all possible, avoid purchasing WIC-eligible items. Grab a different milk brand or bag of salad to help make sure WIC options are available for those who need them.

Support small businesses
Small business owners are seeing a huge decline in spending, making it difficult for them to pay their employees and keep their business running. Shop at smaller retailers, order food to go, and tip generously. If you’re unable to or uncomfortable shopping, buying gift cards is a good way to make purchases while maintaining physical distancing.

Make a monetary donation
By making a donation to Neighborhood House, you allow us the ability to purchase bulk foods at a much lower price than at the grocery store. With monetary donations, we have the flexibility to purchase items that are needed now to supplement what’s currently on our shelves. For $36, you can help feed a family of four for a week. With children out of a school and parents without work, the need continues to rise. If you are able, please make a donation today so that St. Paul families can get the food they need during this difficult time.

We know that everyone is struggling in their own ways right now. We are grateful for the ability we as a community have to come together and support one another during a time of uncertainty and unrest. With compassion and understanding, we will get through this and become a stronger community together.