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.