A year ago, who would have thought that we would still be coping with the impact of a despicable and pernicious virus that has stolen loved ones, closeted families at home, closed or severely hampered businesses, created distance learning curriculums for school children and challenged many to rely on technology to conduct most of their personal and business communication?
With widespread vaccination still months away from effective levels of immunity, we at Weekend Survival Kits are redoubling our efforts at sustaining operations for food kit distribution to school kids and beginning to imagine and plan for a new normal as we begin 2021.
How Covid-19 Has Impacted Weekend Survival Kits
FAMILIES: Many of the families we serve have been severely impacted by loss of employment, which has caused a rushing waterfall of consequences including housing instability, financial devastation, food insecurity for the whole family, challenges working from home and helping their school age children deal with the difficulties of distance learning. Some families have breadwinners who are in essential work environments, but the loss of childcare and/or oversight which the normal school day covered has made it even more difficult for families to meet the educational and food needs of their children.
VOLUNTEERS: The number of volunteers has been severely reduced, for all the reasons related to families, plus the necessary constraints on our processes to maintain a safe, infection-free zone for packing and delivery processes. We are so grateful for our new Director of Operations, Kyla Parkllan, who has had to adjust our safety protocols, processes, and timing more than once. And, even more grateful for the community of the Okemos 2|42 Church which has so graciously opened their Community Center to our organization for the purposes of receiving thousands of pounds of food on pallets, staging the packing sessions, and storing food kits for delivery day. This community has also been part of the solution, encouraging their members to attend packing sessions. To get a closer look at what happens at the Weekend Survival Kits Packing Sessions at 2|42 Church, take a look at our Thank You Video.
WEEKEND SURVIVAL KITS OPERATIONS: Kit counts are down from over 4000 to 2150 per bi-weekly delivery, on average. This change is largely because we are no longer servicing our Detroit outpost, and in some of the mid-Michigan school districts the Greater Lansing Food Bank has been super-serving food distribution to cover whole families both thru schools and food pantries, eliminating the need for us to fill a weekend food gap as we had covered in the past. Weekend Survival Kits is grateful for the generosity of the Greater Lansing Food Bank which has offered free food to our program on several occasions, based on the funds flowing into the Food Bank from national and local sources.
Weekend Survival Kits is using the extra revenue to cover the ongoing cost of operations, and to help us forecast and prepare for what may be a significant food gap which may present soon. We also realize that there are many families whose children, prior to the pandemic, got the supplemental food during the school day with school transportation in place, who now may not be able to get transportation to the schools during virtual learning to pick up food. Weekend Survival Kits, along with the school districts we serve, is considering how we could mobilize volunteers to distribute food to individual households. We are watching closely at how a continuing pandemic and its many challenges to families may present us with a need to adjust our processes and distribution model again. Our mission has always been to fill the gap presented by weekends and holiday breaks during the school year, we may have to consider how to adjust to meet the gaps in service and food needs as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to resonate.
Thank you to all the donors and volunteers who have continued to sustain our program and mission. With your support we will weather this storm and hopefully come out stronger in the end. As always, should you wish to make a gift to Weekend Survival Kits, please visit www.weekendsurvivalkits.org/donate Please consider joining our Promise Keepers campaign by making your gift recurring.