Mainstream News

Opinion: Nonprofits are essential partners in COVID-19 response

The pandemic has spurred a dramatic increase in calls for help.  Help paying rent and mortgage payments. Help navigating unemployment.  Help getting groceries and meals.

The private sector has stepped up in many ways since the pandemic began, such as scaling up production of personal protective equipment, delivering medicines and other priority items (toilet paper!) to homebound residents, and donating millions to relief funds.

When our community-based nonprofit Meals on Wheels program began to see rising demand for our services as Santa Clara County issued a shelter in place order, we had to scramble.  Many of our usual Meals on Wheels drivers had to shelter in place themselves, just when the phones started ringing off the hook with new client inquiries.

Feeling overwhelmed with the crushing need to serve more residents, while our staff and volunteer workforce declined, we reached out to DoorDash for delivery help.  They responded immediately. Thanks to a partnership with the city of San Jose, we successfully launched a pilot with DoorDash to provide contactless meals to medically vulnerable people who are homeless and temporarily sheltered in motels, starting in Week 2 of the shelter in place order.

Since mid-March, demand for Meals on Wheels has quintupled, and we get new inquiries daily.  We are grateful to DoorDash for ensuring our program has been able to deliver nutritious meals to everyone who has requested and needed them so far.  We are grateful to the City of San Jose for developing public-private partnerships to expand food distribution countywide in unpredecented ways.

The private sector is critically important in helping our county plan for exponential growth in home-delivered meals over the next several months if needed.  If ever a time emerged when we need all hands and strategic minds on deck, this is the time.

Price & Product Availability Tracker

Discover where products are available & compare prices

At the same time, as Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg thoughtfully noted in her April 9 opinion piece (“Plotting a COVID-19 Exit Strategy,”) we need to plan not only for the growth of lifesaving services such as home-delivered meals but also the likely exit of some private sector partners when the pandemic subsides.

Community-based organizations were on the ground, delivering meals, on Day 1 of the shelter in place order — actually before Day 1.  We immediately responded to the rising demand for food without having reimbursement contracts in place. We responded because of our missions and our connection to communities in need.  We did not hesitate to do the right thing.

We will continue to serve when the pandemic subsides.  But we will only be able to keep serving if our funders, donors, and supporters – including FEMA, state government, and local government – help ensure we can cover our costs of doing business.  We are asking for what the private sector food distribution partners are asking: help us do our work without us having to go bankrupt. Provide us with financial reimbursement if we are doing high quality, efficient work.

As the city of San Jose and other local government bodies quickly execute new and large-scale contracts with private sector partners, we urge them to remember the nonprofit partners who serve the community with excellence and compassion before, during, and after crises.

Michele Lew is CEO of the Health Trust.

Read the Full Article

Mainstream News

Prepare Now Before its too Late

Discover where products are available & compare prices

We Are Doctors Who Study Trauma. Here’s How To Cope With The COVID-19 Crisis.
Opinion: Coronavirus transforming mental health therapy sessions
You might also like