Getting Food on the Table

Many immigrants lost their incomes with the economic collapse in the spring and early summer. Others who had part-time work while children were in school had to give up income to care for those children when schools closed in early March.

Basic food supplies became unaffordable for many, but most immigrant households did not qualify for emergency federal aid: one-time $1,200 payments and the $600 per week unemployment extension. Schools and county government found ways to continue  breakfast and lunch programs and other community groups stepped up to meet food needs.

UIDN took special care to raise funds and solicit support for immigrant families. We organized dozens of volunteers who were paired with an immigrant family and then shopped bi-weekly, delivering a pre-set shopping list of food and household basics. On alternate weeks we also distributed donated and purchased food.

As some breadwinners have returned to work, home delivery has become less practical and a new distribution pattern has been established. Since July 29, UIDN’s food program has shifted to biweekly free open-air markets at Holy Cross/Santa Cruz in Kingston and Trinity Episcopal in Saugerties.

About 90 families are being helped. The markets allow for a wider range of food and household basics. They also provide an opportunity to identify health needs and get referrals. (See details and how you can help here.)

UIDN continues to finance the food program thanks to grants, individual cash contributions, and indispensable food donations from Hudson Valley Food Bank, Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Kingston YMCA Farm Project, and many local gardeners. Shop Rite and Adams Fairacre Farms have also helped with discounts on UIDN purchases.

We never expected, when UIDN began, that food support would be a major focus of our work, but immigrants are more threatened than most others by the twin threats of the pandemic and unemployment and they are less supported by emergency aid programs. So, for the moment, these basic services have come to define our immigrant defense work.

Photo from UIDN after school team.

Photo courtesy of UIDN’s school support team.

Ready to Help Schools, Kids

UIDN volunteers had to end their after-school tutoring project at Chambers Elementary School when the Kingston Schools ended in-person instruction in March.

We have continued to visit our children (from first through fourth grade) outdoors and safely in their neighborhood every other week, bringing them small gifts of books, craft supplies, and other learning materials.

As school systems plan for reopening in September, UIDN hopes to find a way to resume some form of tutoring for immigrant children in Kingston and New Paltz. School systems’ plans are still evolving, and we are waiting to learn if in-school tutoring will be possible and safe.

Another option would be on-line, one-on-one tutoring, a model that has successfully linked hundreds of children to volunteer tutors in one Connecticut town. We think volunteers and software are available, but need to find out if students will have access to the requisite technology at home. We’ll know more next month.

Learn more about UIDN’s school support team and how to get involved.