Over 130 families helped with food distribution event
Two non-profits partnered to bring a culturally-sensitive food distribution event to Worthington, in what will hopefully be the first of many.
WORTHINGTON — Seeds of Justice, a Worthington non-profit organization, partnered with Partners in Quality Care to conduct a food distribution event a week before Christmas, aimed at helping families with children under the age of 18.
Culturally-sensitive foods such as mangos, beans, peppers and papaya were provided through Partners in Quality Care, another non-profit organization that focuses its support on programs that care for youths and seniors.
“The goal is to have Worthington as a site (for food distribution),” said Peter Ekadu, who assisted with organizing the event, and connected Seeds of Justice with Partners in Quality Care. “The last one we did was like a pilot to see if there were many people who would be interested and we were overwhelmed by the need.”
Ekadu is a former project coordinator with Voices for Justice, and currently does volunteer and public health work. Seeds of Justice’s position and connections within Worthington made partnering with them a “no-brainer”, according to Ekadu.
“They have a lot of unique connections,” he said. “It kind of is an organization that represents the demographics of Worthington.”
Seeds of Justice notified community groups and began contacting families they knew would qualify. They quickly had over a hundred adults on their list.
“Food insecurity is one of the things that Nobles County and a lot of communities of color face,” said Leticia “Letty” Rodriguez, an organizer with Seeds of Justice. “So we jumped right on the idea and that's kind of how it started.”
Two weeks later, on Dec. 18, the event was held in the cafeteria at St. Mary’s Church, which Seeds of Justice has used for food drives and vaccination clinics in the past. An estimated 522 individuals were served, accounting for over 130 families.
Fourteen volunteers, speaking a variety of languages, showed up to help with food distribution and cross language barriers. Along with the food, face masks and hand sanitizer were offered to participants. Seeds of Justice also delivered several bags of food to families who were on their list, but were unable to attend the event.
Food insecurity is an issue for many families of color, especially those that include new immigrants who might not qualify for government aid, said Rodriguez. There are struggles in terms of accessibility, for people who lack both the transportation and funds to get groceries, as well as learning how to prepare foods that may be unfamiliar to someone who just immigrated to the United States. Rodriguez said food isn’t always a priority for families who also have to worry about shelter, transportation, other utilities and work.
“If you have no transportation and you have utilities and clothing and all of this, then the food becomes kind of like a precious commodity,” Rodriguez explained, “because you need to pay for the rest before you can put food on the table.”
Seeds of Justice works to help families who might not be aware of the resources available, or might not come out to access them for a multitude of reasons.
“That's why it's important to connect with other agencies that can let (people) know what's happening and possibly try and connect them with food distributions, like ours or anyone (else’s).” Rodriguez said.
Organizers like Rodriguez and Ekadu hope this event will be the first of a regularly occurring initiative. There are currently plans for another food distribution event to take place in mid-January, and families with children under 18 who are interested in being included should reach out to Seeds of Justice organizers Rodriguez (507) 202-7573, or Aida Simon (507) 202-8475.
“We would like to continue with this,” said Ekadu. “ We had a distribution to over 130 families, and established that in Worthington, that there is still a need.”