Weekly Food Box Deliveries: Living Cully Responds to COVID Crisis

Living Cully Housing Organizer Mayra Torres (left) with 2 food box volunteers

Living Cully Housing Organizer Mayra Torres (left) with 2 food box volunteers.

Volunteers are needed to keep Living Cully’s weekly food box delivery program going. If you are interested in regularly volunteering on Friday mornings, please fill out this online form!

The effects of COVID-19 are felt in communities across the country. While this pandemic has negatively affected millions of people, it has also shown the strength and resilience communities have and their ability to come together to help their neighbors. The Cully community is a great example of a community that has risen to the challenge that the COVID-19 crisis has created.

The pandemic left many Cully households out of work or facing significantly reduced hours. Many are making tough choices between being able to pay rent, buy food, or other basic needs. Living Cully Housing Organizer Mayra Torres had been working on an idea for a neighborhood food delivery program for a few months, but once the pandemic hit we knew we had to act. “We surveyed the community and knew there has been a need… since before COVID-19. We were able to connect with NEFP and knew now was the time to act,” Torres said.

Community Cycling Center volunteer delivering food boxes via bicycle

Community Cycling Center volunteer delivering food boxes via bicycle

Over the past few months, staff from Living Cully, Community Cycling Center (CCC), the Northeast Food Emergency Program (NFEP), and community volunteers have met on Friday mornings at the Luther Memorial Lutheran Church to assemble food boxes for families in need during the pandemic. During that time, 26 volunteers and staff have assembled over 1,650 food boxes for weekly distribution to 150 families in the Cully neighborhood.

For Cully resident Queenie Samuel, the food box delivery program came just in time. “I was down to cooking my last can of food and stale, hard bread when a food delivery box arrived,” Queenie said. Queenie is older and lives at home with her dog. Due to health issues, she is unable to leave the house regularly to get food. Being able to have a variety of good, healthy food that includes fresh produce delivered to her home has helped Queenie get through this difficult time. CCC has been delivering Queenie’s food boxes to her home by bicycle. When asked about the impact the program has had Queenie stated, “It meant the world to me… And everyone was so nice.”

The food boxes have provided much-needed relief for many families in Cully. Getting involved by helping prepare and deliver them has also provided a positive outlet for community members.

Volunteers working with the food box program include several community members who also receive a weekly food box themselves. Getting involved has been an empowering experience for volunteer Maira Galindo. “It’s been great! I’ve felt good doing this, knowing that I can help other people by volunteering.” She stated, “the fact that she is helping other people and making a difference during this hard time” motivates her involvement with the food delivery program.

Fruits, vegetables, and boxes being staged by volunteers

Fruits, vegetables, and boxes being staged by volunteers

Maira knows first hand how important and helpful the food delivery program is to families who are trying to fill in the gaps during this crisis. Her mom lost her job during the pandemic and says “it means a lot that other people care about us.” Maira got involved with volunteering through her sister-in-law Mayra Torres, who is the Living Cully Housing Organizer. Maira said, “I see how she (Torres) enjoys doing it and it’s actually fun to help people and put together the boxes”. Another volunteer, Yareli Gonzalez, got involved when “she didn’t see enough people trying to help support the community” and since volunteering it has made her happy to see people in need receive food, knowing that they are not going hungry because of the food box program. Yareli is also a recipient of food boxes and says it has been “a huge blessing” to be able to receive the food from the program and “there are no words” to describe the impact it has made on her family’s life.

The food delivery program has truly been a community effort that has brought residents closer together and allowed them to help those in need, as well as themselves. The connections and relationships that Living Cully has made through this program will help us more deeply serve the community. Most importantly, the community has come together to help each other during a time of crisis and formed relationships that will only grow stronger once the pandemic is over.

There are two ways you can help support this program:

  1. We need money to buy supplies and provide lunch and modest stipends for our volunteers. Please email Raina Brot-Goldberg if you can help: rainabrot-goldberg@verdenw.org
  2. We are looking for committed regular volunteers! If you can join us on Friday mornings, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you.

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