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I've been delivering 1,000 meals a week to quarantined families in Atlanta - here's why hunger is an issue that needs national attention

I've been delivering 1,000 meals a week to quarantined families in Atlanta - here's why hunger is an issue that needs national attention
Slideshows1 min read

Worry about the spread of COVID-19 is everywhere. But few are talking about an issue that's just as important: having enough food to eat.

Worry about the spread of COVID-19 is everywhere. But few are talking about an issue that

Yes, there are school feeding programs and food banks, but many people in urban areas like Atlanta, where Goodr is headquartered, don't have cars. And now that most parents are home with their kids, they can't afford the round-trip bus fare. Seniors are told to stay inside, but they need food, and have no way to get it without putting themselves at risk.

While unemployment checks are coming, that money can take up to four months to arrive

While unemployment checks are coming, that money can take up to four months to arrive

And although people who receive SNAP will get some extra money — $100 total — those who don't already receive food stamps will get nothing. People who believe a one-time payment of $1,200 is going to do something for these families have no real understanding of the circumstances.

We started with 10 deliveries per night, now we've reached 1,000 each week

We started with 10 deliveries per night, now we

After over 20 days in action, my team and I have established an efficient system for feeding hungry families here in the greater Atlanta area. We've partnered with the Atlanta Public Schools to deliver meals to students, and we've sent many weeks worth of groceries to seniors. We started with 10 deliveries per night. Then 25, then 50, 100, 150 and now we are up to 250 a night. That's 1,000 deliveries per week. We're getting better; some drivers can deliver to eight families in an hour. The team is using the Google 'paper route' maps feature, maximizing their routes.

We're also onboarding out-of-work school bus drivers to help

We

We serve nearly the same number of families with our drive up pop-up location. This center will enable us to double the number of families we can serve compared to previous weeks. We're also onboarding out-of-work school bus drivers to help.

Our volunteers bring families everything — from chicken noodle soup and formula for infants, to fresh produce and lunch meat

Our volunteers bring families everything — from chicken noodle soup and formula for infants, to fresh produce and lunch meat

We rely on Google Forms so that families can request specific food items. I've found a few grocery stores that allow me to shop at the end of the night by myself. This is how we get this done every night: We take inventory, and go stock up.

I founded Goodr because I wanted to help feed people and knew there is wasted food that could be part of the solution

I founded Goodr because I wanted to help feed people and knew there is wasted food that could be part of the solution

As a society, we have been treating food insecurity as a problem of scarcity, when it's really a problem of logistics. The food is available; we just need to get it to the right people.

But even as we deliver more and more food, the number of people in need is growing larger

But even as we deliver more and more food, the number of people in need is growing larger

We're still recovering food from our clients every day — our clients include major companies and brands like Hormel, Papa John's, Chick-fil-a, and more than 200 other businesses, but the demands of this time are unique. It's going to take more food as well as an endless supply of energy to get it to the people that need it most.

42 million people in the US face food insecurity, every single day

42 million people in the US face food insecurity, every single day

The view from the front lines is grim. Researchers predict 80,000 people in the US will die from the virus by July. However, hunger is a problem as serious and as immediate. Before COVID-19, food insecurity was a daily reality for 820+ million people worldwide, 42 million of whom are in the US. The New York Times reported a record of 10 million who sought jobless claims in just the last two weeks, and we know those numbers are rising.

The situation is difficult enough to make anyone break

The situation is difficult enough to make anyone break

I'm a very strong person. But in this situation, it doesn't matter how strong you are. So many are hurting. When you get enough calls from moms with shaky voices, kids crying in the background because they haven't had food in days, it breaks you down. I've started doing guided meditations with my team because this work is so emotional.

For the families we're seeing, home is a hard place to be right now

For the families we

Empty refrigerators. Heavy minds. Lots and lots of worry. If these people — seniors, children, college students — don't eat, we will not only see hundreds of thousands of people dying from coronavirus, but also many others literally starving to death in the richest country in the world.

The food we deliver makes a world of difference to families the most in need

The food we deliver makes a world of difference to families the most in need

One mother of three sent us this note: "I really can't stop crying enough to gather my thoughts on what is the right thing to say. Thank you. Being quarantined with the three crumb snatchers hasn't been easy. But we have been as safe as we can for ourselves thanks to you. I am raising a slice (of pizza) in your honor."

But despite all we do, the issue still needs problem-solving on a national level

But despite all we do, the issue still needs problem-solving on a national level

But even with this gratitude, if the larger social and political forces don't start problem-solving around food scarcity, there's going to be health problems that far exceed the damage caused directly by the virus.

Learn more about Goodr on the organization's website and Twitter.

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