We Must Do More – Week 12 Update from Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Tina Postel
Dear Loaves & Fishes friends,
Our hearts are heavy, filled with anger and sadness at the death of George Floyd and the civil unrest happening nationwide and right here in our own community.
We cannot ignore the racial inequities so obviously visible in our food insecurity work. I’m proud of the incredible work that Loaves & Fishes is doing and has been doing for the last 45 years to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry at night. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that so many of our black and brown neighbors disproportionately find themselves in need of assistance. As we talk about monthly numbers, we have to recognize that more than 88% of the people we served at Loaves & Fishes this month are Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx. It isn’t enough for us to just continue to feed our neighbors in need. Our work must also include the critical steps of collaboration and advocacy for systemic change to solve the inequities in our community that lead to hunger, poverty and injustice. We must continually ask ourselves how can Loaves & Fishes not only feed those in need but what can we do to move upstream towards solutions to the root causes of hunger?
Black Lives Matter has to be more than a slogan. We have to do the work to turn our outrage into meaningful action towards more than the temporary solutions our pantries provide and that action must begin with LISTENING and acknowledging the injustices and inequities before us.
Weekly numbers: Our demand for groceries continues to slowly stabilize. Last week we provided a week’s worth of groceries to 2,202 individuals (798 children, 142 seniors). Our May 2020 numbers totaled out almost 2 ½ times greater than our May 2019 totals with 12,106 individuals served compared to the previous May’s sum of 4,985. We will continue to monitor and assess the food needs in our community and adjust our operations as needed. We know the economic impacts of this pandemic will be variable and long lasting. We are prepared to be there for one another throughout this crisis and beyond.
Pop Up Food Shares: Thanks to the Federal “Farm to Family Food Box” program we are excited to partner with our friends at Second Harvest to distribute excess fresh produce boxes at Pop Up Food Shares. Similar to the Food Shares we held last summer, participants will need to register to receive a box but a referral from a professional source will not be required. We are identifying locations for these Food Shares and plan to launch later this week. These Pop Up Food Shares will be in addition to the Mobile Pantries we have scheduled throughout the community and will not count as one of the twelve pantry visits a year a client is permitted.
I want to close my update this week with a commitment to putting in the tough, gritty work toward dismantling institutional racism. We owe it to our future generations to take those steps in a better direction now. I encourage you all to join me on this journey.
From one hunger fighter to another,
Loaves & Fishes