The United Way and several of its partner agencies are joining forces with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide fresh food to families in Central Alabama. This effort began when UWCA staff realized several organizations that generally have summer camps with a feeding program component would no longer be able to meet due to the coronavirus pandemic.
UWCA is serving as the convener for this initiative by getting agencies to apply as sites. The United Way Interagency Collaborative is designed to strategically alleviate immediate food-insecurity needs while also building a coordinated approach to offering additional services.
The USDA Farmers to Families program provides fresh, healthy foods to vulnerable populations on an ongoing basis through the end of 2020 via recurring, regularly scheduled distributions. Farmers to Families delivers large amounts of fresh, perishable foods, including fruits and vegetables, to partner sites to be quickly distributed to individuals in need. Wholesale food distributors prepackage the products into grocery boxes ranging in size from 15-25 lbs. The food arrives at sites ready to be distributed without any preparation or repackaging required.
United Way agencies in Central Alabama serving as distribution sites currently or in the future include the AG Gaston Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama, Girl Scouts, HICA, Legacy YMCA, Levite Jewish Community Center, and YMCA of Greater Birmingham with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama coordinating the program for the region. Better Basics is also giving out 6000 new books to children in the Birmingham area at several food distribution sites.
YMCA of Greater Birmingham is one United Way agency making families burdens lighter during this time. The Y has distributed close to 16,000 lbs. of food since kicking off the program on July 7. They also estimate close to 5,000 unduplicated individuals have been served at their eight pickup sites so far through their drive-thru, no questions asked distribution. President and CEO Dan Pile said, “Hunger is an enormous barrier to healthy living. As a social services organization, the Y continues to find different ways to serve our community. Being able to offer the Farmers to Families program is very meaningful since over 900,000 Alabamians were food insecure before the pandemic, and those numbers are increasing as a result of COVID-19”.
With a network of partners offering a variety of services, United Way agencies are collectively committed to providing a continuum of support to help people in our community manage the immediate crisis, while also collaboratively supporting them in new ways in the coming days.
For more information on United Way’s efforts in Farmers to Families, contact Ryan Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer or find out the dates and times of YMCA of Greater Birmingham’s remaining distributions, visit www.ymcabham.org/volunteer.