Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Progress is Possible: Sharing food in communities

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has turned most of our daily routines upside down. But in the face of this unprecedented pandemic, Washingtonians are showing up in all kinds of ways, from delivering meals to fighting for proper representation for immigrant communities during the census.

We are spotlighting both ongoing and adaptive work being done around our state because it’s important to remember that even in these times, Progress is Possible.

Fuse Local Council member Nikki Lockwood was elected to the Spokane School Board last year. As the threat of school closures loomed, she visited one of the local schools and heard the same concern from many staff members: feeding the students who lack access to food at home.

Lockwood launched a community fundraising effort and partnered with local businesses including Red Rock Catering to provide hundreds of grab bags with food for 2 days as well as a book. Leftover funds went to making additional food available to students for the weekend.

Lockwood encourages everyone looking to get involved and make a difference to think about the most vulnerable populations in their communities, and to pace themselves. “Don’t burn out – it’s going to be a long haul,” she said.

Fuse Local Council member Amy McColm, works with the local NAACP and the Zone Project in Spokane, has also gotten involved. Her work usually ranges from hosting events to engaging parents in developing strategies to help students get to school on time. Now that schools are closed, she has shifted almost entirely to food distribution.

As some community members build on existing work, others are creating new groups. The Spokane Food Fighters were founded by Rep. Marcus Riccelli in direct response to the pandemic. They have already distributed nearly 15,000 meals to people who aren’t covered by schools, food pantries, or other channels.

In the month they’ve existed, the Spokane Food Fighters have already adapted to community needs, offering their form in Spanish and expanding deliveries to Spokane Valley.

Rep. Riccelli wants everyone to stay mindful of the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is not the only public health crisis we are facing right now. “We don’t want it to be lost that access to food is also a public health crisis. Food is health.”