The NUMI Foundation has provided an overview of its COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief Program.
The Need: insecurity is at an all-time high in the country—Feeding America reported a 70% surge in demand on US food banks, and 40% of those served are first- time users—while at the same time family farms are struggling and throwing away $1B a week of perfectly good produce. Among the hungry families, we are focused on the especially vulnerable households slipping through the cracks and unable to access food banks or reach free food distribution sites because they have tested positive and don’t want to infect others, or they face transportation or literacy barriers. Most of these families are undocumented immigrants and unable to access stimulus funding, unemployment benefits, or food stamps. Through Numi Foundation’s work providing organic gardening programs to over 15,000 low-income K-5 students this past school year, we have direct relationships with many of these families in the San Francisco Bay Area and are committed to helping them weather this unprecedented storm. We’ve made huge strides to date, demonstrated our ability to efficiently, effectively serve high-need families struggling with food security during the pandemic, and are well poised for expanded impact moving forward.
Meeting the Moment: Thanks to the support of Steph and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, Salesforce, and a host of other supporters and partners, we provided free weekly home deliveries of culturally relevant, fresh, organic produce to 3,495 Latino, Southeast Asian, and African American families in the food deserts of Oakland, San Francisco, Marin, and Richmond. We successfully delivered 263,452 pounds of groceries, providing each beneficiary with at least one month of free service, earning a perfect rating from 94% of families served. Often, these deliveries were their only source of food and nutrition for the week, so the program provided a critical lifeline. Building on this success and impact, we recently secured funding to launch a program to provide six months of free home deliveries to 450 low-income, high-risk seniors living in affordable housing, further expanding our foodprint during this unprecedented crisis.
Regenerative Agriculture & Economic Development: All the produce served was sourced from sustainable farms owned by women and people of color, many of which are struggling due to the closure of restaurants and businesses. And the virtuous cycle that drives our impact doesn’t stop there: we created 26 jobs—all of which were directed to the high-need families we first served through the emergency food relief program— and paid out wages totaling $105K to our packers and delivery people.
Ensuring Ongoing Access: When we launched the program and began deliveries within just two weeks of school closures due to COVID-19, we immediately realized that even in the best of times these families do not enjoy food security and easy, cost-effective access to nutritious food. Most reside in “food deserts,” where liquor stores far outnumber grocery outlets, and when shopping at corner store bodegas residents are charged predatory high prices for low quality produce. Given that, beyond simply providing short-term emergency relief in the form of free groceries, we are also leveraging this program to launch an ongoing, sustainable, sliding scale CSA program, Farms to Communities. This was in response to fact that fully 96% of families served asked us to launch a paid version of the service, since families immediately came to appreciate the benefits of access to affordable, healthy food. In fact, most shared that both children and adults in the household were more likely to eat fresh food after participating in the free trial. Building on this demand and the moral imperative to ensure sustainable access, we will offer the thousands of low-income families previously served ongoing access to weekly deliveries at the subsidized rate of just $10 a week. This is made possible by our “Buy One, Help One” families, who will pay $35 a week, which is about 30% less than grocery store rates but high enough to provide a subsidy for another family. Oakland Unified School District has agreed to market the program to its 59,000 families and after launching the program in Oakland this Fall, we aim to expand it to other Bay Area communities in need.
Join Us: Numi Foundation seeks innovative, compassionate donors and funders interested in supporting our efforts to provide emergency food relief to high-need Bay Area families and seniors. Contributions help to subsidize ongoing, paid access to weekly deliveries, as well as provide a completely free first month of service to new families struggling during the pandemic.
More information on this initiative is available here.