ITHACA, N.Y. — COVID-19 has upended many aspects of daily life, but since March the Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force has been working to provide local residents who experience food insecurity with pantry boxes, fresh produce and prepared meals to help meet their needs. Now continuation grants from the Community Foundation of Tompkins County designated for two programs housed at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County will ensure that these efforts are uninterrupted during the holiday season and through the coming winter months.
Even before the pandemic, the non-profit Feeding America (2018) estimated that 10% of all Tompkins County residents (10,400 people) and 17% of all children were food insecure. Food insecurity is expected to impact 14% of all residents and 22% of all children in Tompkins County by the end of 2020. The winter months place an added burden on local families when school food service is suspended during breaks, and fresh produce is in short supply.
The Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force (FTF) is a collaboration of more than 70 local food relief organizations and other non-profit and government partners formed to leverage existing resources and to coordinate relief efforts across our local food system in response to COVID-19. Partners meet every two weeks to discuss the latest COVID case numbers, share survey results, and to identify new food shortage “hot spots” across the county. Service gaps are addressed collaboratively, through efforts that include informational outreach, supplementing school food during breaks, coordinating volunteer deliveries, and developing new ways to reach vulnerable populations. The FTF also helps support the informal network of community members who maintain the free outdoor “blue food cabinets”, organized via the Mutual Aid Tompkins Facebook group.
These efforts have been funded in part by support for the FTF and for partner agencies provided by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. An earlier grant to partner Nourish Tompkins supported the purchase of fresh produce that was distributed to families in need. Recent continuation funding from the Foundation will enable Nourish Tompkins to supply 260 produce boxes for school families with food insecurity, and to provide 4,300 pounds of fresh local and regional produce for hunger relief partners to distribute to households in need. Produce also will be used by volunteer chefs to prepare 1,950 hot meals for hungry families, and for individuals living unsheltered throughout the county
“The Community Foundation has been able to provide this level of funding because of the generous support to the COVID-19 Response Fund,” reports Janet Cotraccia, Chief Impact Officer. For more information about the Foundation and its work, or to provide financial support, visit the Community Foundation of Tompkins County online or contact Nancy Massicci at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force, find community resources, volunteer, or to join a FTF zoom meeting, visit their website or contact Holly Payne, Coordinator, at email@example.com. The Tompkins County Food Task Force and Nourish Tompkins are housed at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Coordination of the Food Task Force is supported by initial and continuation grants from the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County
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