Dear Sisters and Brothers — Ulster Immigrant Defense Network (UIDN) has been supplying food to about 70 asylum-seeking families at third Thursday Share Days. Given restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, we can no longer bring volunteers together to package food or ask families to pick it up. As a result, we are starting a “shop and deliver” program —  your opportunity to help meet a dire need.

For obvious reasons, the families UIDN serves are among the most vulnerable in our community. That vulnerability has been intensified by the present health crisis. Thus, our friends’ ability to meet their basic human needs — i.e., food and products that support personal hygiene — is shrinking, while their needs are increasing.

Many of our friends speak Q’eqchi’, a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala and Belize, and their knowledge of Spanish and English is often limited. Some are unfamiliar with many of the available social safety nets and community resources. Many have no means of transportation or access to the internet. Employment possibilities are few to non-existent. And, most are caring for small children.

Given our current social distancing protocols, it is unsafe for UIDN volunteers to come together at Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church to package food, and we can no longer invite our friends to come to the Church to pick up boxes each month. To this end, last Thursday, March 19, UIDN volunteers delivered boxes of food and personal hygiene products to 50 doorsteps.

Further complicating the situation, grocery stores have established limits on the size of orders people can place making it difficult to impossible for UIDN to purchase food items in quantities needed in advance of the Family and Household Support Team’s third Thursday’s Share Days.

Thankfully, we have devised a way around this newest challenge. We  invite UIDN supporters to shop for a family and deliver food and personal hygiene items to that family’s doorstep. If at all possible, for as long as necessary, we would like to provide “shop and deliver” assistance for our friends twice a month. If you are able to do this only once a month, we’re happy to pair you with another volunteer, so that each family still receives two deliveries a month.

UIDN will reimburse the cost of these shopping excursions. Simply mail or email us receipts and provide us with your mailing address so we  can send a check to cover your costs.

First coronavirus food distribution

Preparing for March 19 distribution. Photo by Jo Salas.

Food Shopping List

1 gallon of whole milk
1 large box of corn flakes
1 large box of oatmeal
1 dozen eggs
1 bag of apples
1 bag of oranges
4 jalapeno peppers
4 tomatoes
6 bananas
1 tray of chicken thighs
1 five-pound bag of white rice
1 five-pound bag of black beans
1 32-ounce bottle of vegetable oil
1 32-ounce bottle of apple juice
1 4-5 pound bag of Maseca corn flour (often found near Goya products)

How to help

For further information or to let UIDN know that you are ready to engage in this act of kindness for the next few months, please be in touch with Leslie Gallagher, lilacless2@yahoo.com. You can, of course, end your involvement any time you wish.

Finally, in addition to the food shopping list at right (or below, if you’re reading this on a phone), we’ll give you a list of needed personal hygiene products – and, if the family has young children, the size(s) of disposable diapers needed. UIDN will give you the name and address of the family you’re helping and communicate your preferred drop-off date and time to the family.

When making the drop off, we maintain social distance by leaving the food on their porch or by their front door; then, when back in your car, text the family to come out to pick up their food.

Thank you,
Father Frank Alagna for UIDN