Community Update - June 2020
What an extraordinary few months it has been. Every time things feel a bit settled into some type of normal, something new is discovered or a new action is being taken. At MOM, we are doing our best to track the need and respond in the safest way we can for the overall, long-term health of our community. We thought it was a good time to check in.
First, we are excited to announce that thanks to a tremendous outpouring of support from individuals, businesses, and foundations, we can increase our direct support assistance by over 50% over the next months. MOM’s Case Management team is looking at ways to supplement our already robust housing security programs to offer additional financial assistance to struggling individuals and families. These donations will also give us increased flexibility to acquire food as needed. We continue to be overwhelmed by your gifts and care for your community.
This increased assistance will help us fill gaps. Federal, state and county programs that support people in need of assistance have been revised over the last months to help meet new and changing demands. For us, this means coordinating our response and preparing for what continues to be exceptionally uncertain times for many people we serve. We continue to collaborate with other Dane County non-profits to prepare and act.
How will our programs and operations change to meet the need?
We receive weekly direction from Public Health Madison & Dane County as well as through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), informing MOM’s Food Pantry and food security efforts. Because our clients and volunteers remain our priority, we have been and will continue to operate our Food Pantry through "curb-side" food box distribution. Each week we are distributing nearly 450 Care Boxes, supplied by Second Harvest Food Bank.
While we have been supplementing these boxes for the last months, this past week we started a menu system which allows people to choose what additional food and personal care items they need. We are delighted to, once again, be able to offer choice. We also started distributing gluten free boxes and are beginning to harvest some items from our food pantry gardens. Summer produce will soon be in full swing!
MOM’s Case Managers are meeting the needs of our clients through virtual case management appointments. The need for rental and eviction prevention assistance continues. As we navigate the continuing changes in housing programs, our Case Managers are assessing needs and filling gaps for community members struggling with a severe and sudden loss of income. As housing needs have increased in the past years in our community, we had already budgeted nearly double the rent and eviction prevention assistance we had budgeted in the two years prior.
We also added an outreach case manager to the team at the beginning of the calendar year. He has been able to work directly with many of our community partners including the Lussier Community Education Center and several MCPASD social workers to connect families with our services.
So what is next?
We are moving step by step, assessing current needs, listening, and pivoting weekly. We are anticipating how our Food distribution may look in the future, knowing that Coronavirus continues impacting people's lives and poses a great risk to their health as well as their livelihoods.
Some of our programs are still deeply impacted. Our Clothing Center remains closed to general client access. The Seniors Program is not currently offering rides, although still includes food box deliveries to senior clients struggling with access to food and some limited outdoor chores. This means that volunteer opportunities will remain very limited for the time being due to both changes in operations and the need for social distancing. How our seasonal programs, such as our Back to School program, will operate and what the needs will be are still unknown.
How can you continue to support our work?
1) We know that people who never thought they would need a food pantry are struggling, and many are worried that they will be taking food from others that they believe need it more. Please encourage anyone you know who could use assistance to come and get support. There is a solid supply of food in the system, and it is ready for anyone who is struggling. They can even send a neighbor or friend to pick-up food. Last week's distribution included cheese curds, milk, and fresh fruits and vegetables. No one needs to struggle with the worry about what they will eat tonight.
2) While we still are not completely open to community food donations, we can now accept a limited number of items, with donation drop-offs scheduled for specific weekly times to assist with proper staffing. If you have been wishing to donate, we are ready and grateful for your assistance!
3) If you are a MOM volunteer and are healthy and not in a high-risk category, we still have limited volunteer shifts available. Visit the MOM website or contact the Volunteer Program Manager for more information. As we look ahead at all of our programs, we know additional volunteer opportunities will likely become available.
Thank you so much for caring for your neighbors. We feel your support and we are grateful to have the opportunity to pass it on.
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