While our ability to meet clients looks different with social distancing, we’ve been excited by the opportunity to step outside our normal realm of services.
Q: Kisha, this time seems to be posing a number of challenges for our clients. What are some of those obstacles we’ve seen?
A: Housing is definitely one of the biggest obstacles for our clients. The problem is that the housing that is available is not adequate for our client population. Many of our clients come in without income or with an eviction on their record. The biggest thing we can do is help them find housing and then maintain it with rent and utility assistance. However, often we don’t have the funds needed to assist them. We receive thousands of dollars of rent and utility requests each month, yet we are only able to help a fraction of that. Especially with the eviction moratoriums ending, we expect to see this increase drastically.
Q: It sounds like there is a lot of need right now. How have we expanded our services to meet those needs?
A: We have re-evaluated our services and the way we provide them. A lot of our clients have felt scared in this time, as we work with some of the more vulnerable populations including seniors and people with medical concerns. Many are just now beginning to come back into our offices as they feel more comfortable leaving home. While our ability to meet clients looks different with social distancing, we’ve been excited by the opportunity to step outside our normal realm of services and provide community-wide food distributions of dairy and fresh produce.
So far, we’ve been able to provide a food distribution event each month since June. They’ve been extremely successful. We’ve been able to serve at least 250 families at each event, with our most successful event capping at 500 families.
Q: Some recent statistics show food scarcity is on the climb in Missouri since the pandemic hit, with some of our counties climbing as high as 22% food scarcity. Have we seen that reflected in the populations we serve?
A: Interestingly enough, we are seeing a different population seek services at the food distributions. Many of our traditional clients are on food stamps, but don’t need additional food assistance since the government doubled the number of food stamps provided.
We’ve heard a lot of families coming through say they haven’t ever had to seek food assistance before. They’ve offered us money or asked how much they needed to pay, not knowing this was completely free. The majority of this new population are employed (or recently unemployed) and don’t qualify for food stamps, yet they are feeling the economic impact of this pandemic. Many of them are having to choose whether they can feed their family or pay the electric bill. This is where the food distributions fill the gap and provide them some relief.
Q: Do we plan to do more food distributions in the future?
A: Absolutely. We’ve had a number of vendors ready to give us produce and dairy for our clients. We expect to continue to host distributions in September and October, at least. We also have more exciting news to be announced, so stay tuned!
For more information, contact Kisha Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (816) 659-8237.