Securing Food for
Families Who Need it Most
The COVID-19 crisis continues have a deep impact on families experiencing homelessness, especially when it comes to economic and financial security. So many parents with young children have lost their jobs or had work hours cut due to the pandemic. In a Horizons parent survey, 87% of families listed food as a resource they needed most. When faced with the difficult decision of whether to pay rent or utilities, families often go without food to make ends meet. Horizons stepped up to address these vital needs and provide access to fresh food for families free of charge.
Thanks in part to a generous grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund, Horizons has been developing a program to address food insecurity. Through a partnership with Neighborhood Villages, another Boston-based nonprofit focusing on families and affordable childcare, the two agencies collaborated to develop a pathway for our families to gain access to a new Horizons food program with Fresh Truck.
Fresh Truck is a nonprofit food delivery service serving the Greater Boston Area, delivering fresh produce including vegetables and fruits, as well as dry goods like rice, beans, pasta and shelf stable milk to homes and shelters via delivery trucks. Produce changes every month to features a variety of 5 or 6 vegetable options and approximately 3 types of fruits, in family-sized quantities.
Through the Neighborhood Villages connection, Horizons was able to negotiate and help fund a monthly food delivery to our families through a pilot program. 108 families signed up in January and the program has been a wonderful success. Feedback has been positive across the board and families are grateful for the added support of a supplemental monthly grocery delivery.
“The delivery of fruit and vegetables has made such a difference in how my daughter and I are eating. I work a lot of hours and fast food was quick,” explained Angelik, mother of four-year-old LeeLee. “But nothing is quicker than a box that gets delivered to our door. Now my daughter LeeLee is loving her carrots and telling anyone who will listen, ‘I’m going to grow up strong because I’m eating my vegetables!’”
Horizons is also following the lead of anti-poverty groups by providing direct cash payments into families’ bank accounts since December to help pay for food. These cash payments have been a lifeline to many of our families over the winter months. With help from Horizons’ Family Advocates parents are also learning important skills like budgeting and financial literacy.
“The needs of every family are unique but when we saw that so many were struggling with food insecurity, we knew there was an opportunity to make a positive impact,” shared Sheila O’Neil, Horizons Executive Director of Programs. “We’re thankful to this program’s funders and hope to extend the number of families served and the frequency of deliveries. The children eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and snack when they’re with us during the day, now we’re lending a hand to make sure dinner is brain building too.”
This piece was written by Andrea Drag, a regular contributor to Horizons’ blog.