Fighting Hunger With Our Hearts! ~Matthew 25:35
The pandemic of COVID-19 has crushed so many businesses and our nonprofit is no exception. COVID doesn’t care if your business was small or large; nor if it was located in a low , mid or high income area. It was here to destroy lives and businesses all at the same time.
Our business has been fighting the good fight of faith for the greater cause of families desperately needing our service. There are millions of families out of work in Florida due the pandemic and unfortunately many don’t meet the income threshold for the government SNAP program, forcing some families to come to my organization and others like mine for their food survival. We are their only hope, if they don’t qualify for benefits they might starve without us.
We are doing everything we can to continue feeding families on a weekly basis with private donations, grants, loans, and the Founder's own resources. In the midst of this economic down turn we lost 30 donors in 2020 and 37 in 2021.
Last year, 15 of our 30 donors we lost became our clients due to loss of employment. The 15 of our former donors, who are now our clients, supported JDH for years; now it was time for us to step up and help them back with weekly groceries so they could have food for their families. Hunger in some ways is similar to COVID-19 due to the fact that it does not discriminate! It has no age, race, gender, ethnic background or zip code! The sad fact is anyone and everyone is open to its wrath of economic instability!
HOW WE ANSWERED THE CALL OF COVID-19: Joseph Dreamhouse went from having 33 -35 volunteers a weekly, with three distribution days, to having to hire a staff of 12 employees throughout this pandemic to now meet the daily needs of the community. Unfortunately, with volunteers the issue is not everyone wanted to oblige by the guidelines of mask wearing or social distancing, so hiring a staff became necessary for everyone’s safety.
We had to refit our business from a come in and make your selection (pantry choice), to a drive thru car line that started backing up traffic to our highway. Now we have a delivery service. As the need continues to grow with families desperate for food, we knew we had to restructure our business once again especially since cases in Florida were on the rise. We had to implement more safety procedures for staff and clients. We also could not keep blocking the highway. So, we decided to start making daily deliveries to clients, keeping everyone safe—especially our vulnerable communities. My staff and I organized the process that every client has a specific day and time for delivery. The deliveries are split by staff based on client location daily. This was the best way we have remained safe and COVID free.
As a classically trained chef it was important to me to get families' dietary needs correct. I would spend time on the phone or via email speaking to each family from our intake form and find out their dietary needs. My team and I would a assemble a list of food we have in inventory and put the list on a drive for clients to pick their dry food for those that did not have any dietary needs. For those that had specific dietary needs I would compile a list for them. We would pack the food item in plastic bags that we purchase from Costco at retail price and then placed in an industrial food safety storage bins. On delivery day we pack meat, if we have any, produce and bread/desserts and the dry food safety bins in our vans and cars and set out to deliver the families groceries for the week. However, as the pandemic continues to ravish on, it is depleting our allocated resources we had saved for months of distribution for what was our regular clientele at one point. The need keeps growing and we never want to see a child go to bed hungry on our watch, so we have been giving out our reserves. However, at this time since the need continues to grow and we are trying to take care of the people we currently serve we can’t help out anymore families which is devastating to us as an organization. We are not sure how much longer the pandemic is going to last as our USDA commodities are drying up, and our store donations are low and lack the nutrient dense foods. A lot the burden has been on Chef Fran to purchase foods at retail cost to feed families a balanced USDA , My Plate meal.