The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing food insecurity in underserved communities affecting senior, homeless, and other vulnerable populations. In February, 2020, the Association of Chinese Americans Detroit Chapter (ACA) and the Eastern Michigan University Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies (CHDIS) responded to the need during these unprecedented times by creating a Community Education Committee to prepare and deliver care packages for COVID-19 relief. One of the authors (TYW) sits on this committee and coordinated efforts of the community partners and volunteers to distribute 100 care packages to senior citizens and families in need living in Hamtramck and Detroit on April 21, 2020. This area of Michigan is home to Bangladeshi Americans (26% of Hamtramck population) and has a high rate of poverty. Using a $25.00 per box limit and cultural considerations based on data previously gathered through work with a local food pantry, nutrition experts provided input on foods and hygiene items for the care packages. The care packages contained a variety of foods, for example, protein (peanut butter, canned beans, and canned tuna or chicken), fruits and vegetables (cantaloupe, cabbage, and potatoes), and carbohydrates (rice and oatmeal) for nourishment. The packages also contain much-needed personal protection supplies (e.g., face masks, hand soap, hand sanitizer) to help vulnerable individuals reduce risks of contracting the virus. The needs emerging from unprecedented times call for timely actions. An additional 1000 care packages have been delivered to families and senior citizens in Michigan. Multi-sector partnerships between community-based organizations, civil engagement agencies, small businesses, municipal offices and funding support from United Way provided opportunities for communities working together to develop and implement solutions in achieving shared goals of health and safety.
Keywords: COVID-19; Food Insecurity; Volunteer Engagement; Nutrition