Bringing Community Together in Platte County (A COVID-19 Story)
Staying connected during this time of social distancing has been a challenge for individuals and communities. One way communities are staying in touch and helping share resources is through Facebook group pages, like the Platte Co. Community Needs group created in March. CNP educator Mary Evans reached out to her community partners to create the group, which now has over 1,300 members.
“The group page has been a place for sharing resources and information, from people asking for eggs to seeking volunteers and receiving information from Platte County Public Health and Emergency Management”, said Evans.
In addition to asking for volunteers to help with the mobile food pantry, Evans used the group page to get information out about the Food 4 Weekends backpack program that she coordinates with her neighbor, Shelley Marker, and the school lunch program.
“I announced last night that we would have backpack pickup today and the number of bags increased by about 10,” said Evans on April 24th. “In a town the size of Wheatland, that is a lot of kids not going hungry over the weekend.”
The Food 4 Weekends program serves 60 families in Platte County. Families pick up the food bags on Friday mornings in the parking lot at West Elementary School.
“We serve approximately 282 people with the backpacks as we pack for the entire family not just the students,” said Evans.
Along with the Food 4 Weekends program, Evans has been involved with the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides food boxes to people 60 and older who income quality. Prior to COVID-19, seniors picked up their own boxes, but in April, it was decided that the boxes should be delivered. Again, Evans reached out to her community partners.
“I contacted members of the Community Resource Coalition,” Evans said. “Within 15 minutes of the email I had over 10 volunteers to help with the delivery. I not only had the 10 volunteers I needed to deliver this month, I have a list for next month also. I was so worried the seniors would have to come out and possible be exposed, but they were able to stay at home and have the boxes delivered to their door step.”
Volunteers wore gloves and masks and ensured no face-to-face contact during deliveries to limit exposure.
Social distancing may be keeping us physically apart, but people and communities are finding new ways to come together to support one another.
“This community has really stepped up to the plate to help our neighbors,” said Evans. “Together, we are able to help one another handle the difficulties of this situation.”