By Jenni Berrios, Ursinus College
“For the Community, from the Community with Love” was a collaborative project between CCATE and Ursinus College students that worked to tackle food insecurity in Norristown, an issue that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal for this community-led project was to make sure that there was food on local families’ tables, especially healthy food, which we accomplished by delivering food baskets to community members. In total, we delivered 2850 baskets. We never imagined that the program would go on as long as it did, and we weren’t prepared financially to fund this project. Thankfully, we were able to get donations from the Bonner Foundation and other donors to keep this program alive.
In addition to delivering baskets, we made pamphlets that we sent out biweekly to families. In the pamphlets, we provided information about the program and its goals, an overview of the programs offered at CCATE, and a recipe that incorporated the ingredients families got in their baskets. To ensure the quality of these baskets, we sought feedback from families, including leading interviews to hear from families directly. Through the interviews with the families, we found that most families were more aware of their food choices and chose to continue eating healthily. We learned that the parents enjoyed cooking nutritional food for their children. Jenny Bonilla, a family member receiving the baskets, said that the baskets were super helpful, especially when money was short because she was able to save money and use it to pay for other expenses.
We held a focus group to hear from the volunteers. This group, which included Caitlin Brady, Lourdes Flores, Jenni Berrios, Holly Link, Diana Lugo, Rosalba Esquivel-Cote, Ines Castro, and Vasni San, discussed the project’s successes, next steps, and ways to improve. Through the program, volunteers and community members noted that they were eating better and feeling better. We attributed the program’s success to our love and respect for the community. Despite operating during a pandemic, we were able to brainstorm ideas to maintain the closeness of the community. This program fuels the heroes of the community, who are continuously thinking of the best for their community. In the future, we plan to continue feeding our community with education and nutrition. As for the future of the program, we are expecting things to look up through the second vaccine, but our goal to encourage better nutrition in our community won’t stop. Now that we can get together in person, we plan to create programs like the gardening group and potentially eat together.
We acknowledge our Latnix community of Norristown and our goal is to fuel this community with nutrition: whether it be good education or healthy food. We are beyond grateful for the collaboration with Ursinus students and the Bonner foundation. Last but not least, our devoted volunteers who are also part of the Latinx community, and our project leader Diana Lugo who made sure that the baskets had a home. The reason we named it For the Community, From the Community with Love, is because the same community finds a way to give back and motivate each other to be the best they can be, no matter the circumstances. Everyone was having hardships because of the pandemic but the hard work never stopped. CCATE thrives on supporting the community and the success of this program demonstrates our devotion to the community.
¡Viva la comunidad!