The Alliance for Health Equity Food Access and Food Equity met in mid April to share information on the local food system’s rapid response to COVID-19, support connections for increased partnerships, and discuss longer-term goals for food procurement from local food producers and businesses, in light of COVID-19.
The slides from the meeting are available here
Several members of the Leadership Group for the Alliance for Health Equity’s Food Access Workgroup served as presenters and discussants at the meeting.
- The Chicago Food Policy Action Council shared the work of the Chicago COVID-19 Food System Rapid Response effort. Food system stakeholders, including many healthcare and public health partners, are currently organized in four subgroups: Emergency Food Assistance, Food Systems Workers, Local Food Business Impacts, and Local Food Producers. The subgroups meet weekly to discuss pertinent needs and what resources can be tapped to fill these needs. Representatives from Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Greater Chicago Food Depository also shared how their organizations are participating in the rapid response network and answered workgroup members’ questions about how to get involved.
- Click here to join the Chicago COVID-19 Food System Rapid Response effort
- Windy City Harvest and Proviso Partners for Health presented their adapted VeggieRx model that they have scaled up during COVID-19 in Maywood and Proviso Township. Before shelter-in-place, the VeggieRx model utilized person-to-person interactions to distribute food and provide nutrition lessons and cooking demonstrations. In response to COVID-19, the in-person connections were moved to social media, food distributions were moved to delivery, and additional preventative measures were put in place. During a time of great uncertainty related to food, Windy City Harvest and Proviso Partners for Health have recreated a reliable model and encouraged community support.
To stay connected to the Alliance for Health Equity Food Access and Food Security Action Agenda, the workgroup discussed how large institutions, such as hospitals, can support the local food system in light of COVID-19. Workgroup members representing hospitals shared how they have been adapting to the needs of their patients and staff. Hospitals have been developing or expanding their food access programs like food boxes. The workgroup discussed best practices for food distribution through hospitals. Additionally, it was discussed how the initiatives that come out of COVID-19 can be expanded as we all work to address inequities in food access. Rather than waiting for a quarterly meeting schedule, the workgroup will be convening monthly to continue to share ways to partner together with communities to improve food access and food security during this critical moment.