The breakout of COVID-19 has put the importance and impact of public health front and center in our lives. We stand with partners, families, workers, teachers, and officials as we work together to mitigate the spread, protect the vulnerable, and decrease strain on healthcare infrastructure.
Governor Ducey has announced a state-wide closure of public schools until March 27th, and other organizations are rapidly following suit. The suspension of daily operations of schools, events, and other social gatherings can mean additional strain in already challenging situations. Many kids rely on school breakfast and lunch, and schools are committed to ensuring students have access to food during this time.
So what can you do if you find yourself impacted by these closures and in need of food?
1. Check with your local school district
Most districts are in the process of putting plans together for grab and go meal options or other methods of meal service, so keep an eye out for communication from your school.
You can also check your school district’s website or Facebook page for updated information and options. The Arizona Food Network is also maintaining a list of available options by district. Check back frequently for updates.
2. Contact your local food bank
The Arizona Food Bank Network is currently working with state agencies and other partners to figure out how to distribute food during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, food banks are continuing operations and services. Emergency food is available for families to help address needs during closures.
To speak to someone about services and other options available to you, call the hotline at: 602-528-3434 or 1-800-445-1914
More information is available on their website at: http://www.azfoodbanks.org/index.php/covid-19
To speak to someone about services and other options available to you, call the National Hunger Hotline
National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-Hambre (1-877-842-6273).
Some have asked how else they can help in this time of need. Now is a time we can band together as communities and neighbors to help take care of one another. There are ways you can assist in helping ensure food is available to those most in need.
1. Consider volunteering at your local food bank or panty
Food banks rely on the work of volunteers to distribute food. Considering operational changes needed during the COVID-19 response, volunteers are even more critical. Traditionally, seniors make up a large percentage of their volunteer work force. Because seniors are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, healthy, young volunteers are needed to pack and distribute boxes.
You can find a food bank near you at: http://www.azfoodbanks.org/index.php/foodbank/
2. Shop at your local farmers market
Markets across the state are facing uncertainty as the COVID-19 situation in our state rapidly evolves. Please check directly with your local farmers markets and local food distributors via social media and/or email newsletters to stay up to date on openings, closures, and alternative sales channels.
You can find your local market using:
www.doubleupaz.org/locations (These sites accept SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks)
Good Food Finder, managed by Local First Arizona.
www.doubleupaz.org/locations (If you receive SNAP benefits, this website will direct you to farmers markets that participate in the Double Up Food Bucks Arizona program)
Until we return to business as usual, we wish you all health, safety, and nourishment. And, this friendly reminder to please wash your hands and maybe consider making a food drop at the door of your neighbor who may be in need!
What is being done to support local food?
In our recent letter to the Governor’s office and other state agencies, we stated:
“Farmers markets are vitally necessary for the livelihood of tens of thousands of farmers and for food access for millions of consumers. Farmers markets provide essential services for food access in the same manner as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential public services as decisions are made regarding containment protocols. Pinnacle Prevention and the Arizona Food Systems Network applauds Governor Ducey’s recent actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition to these directives, we formally request that the Governor exempt farmers markets from the gathering prohibitions of 50 people or more.”
Click here to read the entire letter.