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Our homeless population has been hit hard by this pandemic and our emergency response to assisting this at-risk population gives them access to healthy food. The DSSC & DSS Feeding Partnership began approximately in April with the Division of State Service Centers (DSSC), Division of Social Services (DSS), the Food Bank of Delaware and the Campus Cafè
The DSSC at the onset of the pandemic was concerned that the health crisis, the stay-at-home mandates, and other limitations would affect resources utilized by the homeless population and impact their ability to access food for their families.
The division also recognized that people experiencing homelessness were not only at risk for health issues due to less access to adequate health care, lower resistance, and compromised immune systems, but also routinely faced significant food insecurity. All these factors made them more susceptible to the COVID-19 health crisis.
The Food Bank currently provides 3 meals a day, Monday through Friday, to over 350 persons experiencing homelessness - so far over 30,000 meals have been distributed! Weekend meals are delivered on Friday and include bottled water and adequate food for Saturdays and Sundays. Overall, we have delivered hot meals and shelf stable, prepared meals, as well as snack kits and hygiene kits to our vulnerable populations.
We have been learning, responding, and developing the program infrastructure as the program is running. Our partners have been generous and patient while coordinating efforts virtually as well as on the ground to include: communicating and updating client information daily, making nutritious meals, making deliveries, practicing social distancing and other CDC health guidance necessary to protect those going out daily as well as the clients.
DHSS is proud of the awesome community partnerships we have forged and the Departmental and Division leadership that allows for the necessary program innovation and creativity required to meet the needs of vulnerable Delawareans during this time.
More details on how the Food Bank is using its culinary program to make this partnership work is outlined here.
Images courtesy of the Division of Social Services communications team, the Food Bank of Delaware, and the staff at the Division of State Service Centers.