There’s no denying the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on residents in Greater Atlanta — particularly those who are food insecure.
The pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus only amplified that need in underserved communities, disrupting access to food for thousands of children and their families.
This past week, United Way of Greater Atlanta, in partnership with Coca-Cola, hosted a Week of Service to meet the needs of those residents most greatly impacted by COVID-19.
About two weeks into March, major cities around the country began shutting down any non-essential businesses in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus, an infectious disease, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.
United Way had previously halted in-person events and volunteer opportunities but began offering safe and socially-distanced on-site volunteer events, as well as virtual and DIY opportunities in the months since Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp rolled back restrictions on a previous “shelter-in-place” order.
This is a new way that United Way has begun to meet the needs of the community while also making sure volunteers have opportunities available based on their comfort level.
“We are in constant communication with our partners on their needs and filling in as they arise,” says Brittany Phouangphet, Engagement Specialist in the Volunteerism Department for United Way. “Projects can also be tailored to specific groups and their unique set of skills. As a valued partner of United Way for over a century, Coca-Cola engages volunteers annually. This Week of Service was a special call to action, designed to address the impact of COVID-19 on the growing issue of food insecurity in Greater Atlanta.”
Over the past week, volunteers assembled more than 1,000 meals, harvested fresh veggies and performed garden maintenance for local gardens that deliver to food banks around Greater Atlanta and also implemented an emergency operation in conjunction with the Westside Future Fund to help feed families in historic Westside of Atlanta — an area that is growing rapidly, but still has great need, Phouangphet says.
“We are seeing overwhelming enthusiasm from our volunteers, whether it is a DIY project to complete at home, or a small group on-site event that has proper safety measures, volunteers are more eager than ever to help ensure our community thrives,” Phouangphet says. “The current climate has influenced us to increase our offering of virtual and remote opportunities; ensuring both the safety of our volunteers and meeting the needs of our communities.”
Learn more about how you can volunteer in your area and donate to improve the well-being of children and families in Greater Atlanta.