Imagine being told that you are positive for COVID-19, knowing you will have to take time off work, and are already struggling to feed your family. To help meet this immediate need and help patients stay indoors in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus, Salt Lake County has partnered with us on the distribution of COVID-19 food boxes, thanks to CARES Act funding.
Here’s how it works: if a resident of Salt Lake County tests positive for the virus, the community health worker notifying them asks if they need food assistance. We then receive their address, and a staff member delivers a box of food that is left outside their front door. Since we began this program, we have delivered over 1,600 of these boxes, containing non-perishable essentials such as soups, macaroni & cheese, boxed meals, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, rice, pasta, and more.
Kelly, our delivery person, carefully sets the boxes in place on their porch, knocks, and heads to his car. He often gets waves from windows and shouts of thank you. “Being in isolation can be lonely, and during these difficult times, it has been interesting to learn how much warmth you can feel from a simple wave from the porch. I know that these patients are so grateful for the service they are receiving, and I’m sure that it has brought some peace of mind to them, as they heal.” Kelly shared, “I’ve seen fear and worry in people’s eyes, but also determination to beat this. Sometimes it’s been hard to just leave the food and run. But mostly everyone I’ve delivered to has been so grateful, yelling a big thanks as I head to the next stop.”
We are currently delivering between 30 and 65 boxes each day, and the virus is affecting people across all demographics. Kelly says, “I’ve delivered to every city in Salt Lake County. Herriman, Riverton, South Jordan, West Jordan, West Valley, Kearns, Magna, Sandy, Salt Lake City, Holiday, Draper. East, West, North, South, Rich and Poor. I’ve been there.”
There is a person with a story behind every delivery. One community health worker shared this experience with us: One of my cases told me his fridge was “looking very empty.” My heart sank because I knew he had a young teenage son, and they are notoriously hungry humans. I quickly filled out a food distribution request while we were still on the phone and crossed my fingers that it would get there soon. In a follow-up call, he told me that soon after that request, a food box was delivered. He said, “If everybody worked like this, it would be a great world.” I consider this a huge success because not only were his physical needs met, his emotional needs were too. I know this client didn’t feel as alone, scared, or insecure because of the quick work we did.
We are grateful to Kelly, the community health workers, and everyone else who is making it possible for us to help those directly hit by COVID-19. Thank you!