Catalyst - Fall 2020 Vol 3 No 1 - Page 21

by a donor-advised fund of the Atlanta Jewish Foundation with a substantial donation for us to focus on feeding children. So we've been using that donation to also make what we call Big Brown Bags. They’re just simply large brown grocery bags packed with about 20 pounds of assorted food items and healthy snacks, and things to help children get through the week. We deliver out about a hundred of those every week, and we'll continue to do that through August when the children get ready to go back to school. We also receive funding through The Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy, so in those Big Brown Bags we include an assortment of storybooks, art activity books, coloring books, and educational materials that help children keep reading and staying engaged in the learning process over the summer. How have you seen your nearby community come together during this really difficult time? ZM: We've been really fortunate because we have such strong committed partners. Of course our collaborative has been in existence for almost 25 years now, so it's a good, strong, well established partnership. We've been really fortunate that a lot of those partners, regardless of the risks involved, have been willing to step up and volunteer to do this work. JL: We also have had several faith-based organizations reach out to us because they have seen on social media and in our newspaper what we're doing as far as trying to improve food access within the county. So they actually have called and said to us-- we would like to bring a trailer filled with meat products and water, paper products, fresh vegetables and other supplies. That’s been a real blessing to the people in our community. And it’s been encouraging to see that, because of media coverage and word of mouth, people are actually reaching out to us, willing to come and participate because they see what a positive impact is being made. Do you think your involvement with the Two Georgia's Initiative has helped you all deal with these COVID-19 challenges and changes in direction? ZM: Healthcare Georgia Foundation has been tremendously important in helping us look at everything we do through that lens of health equity. The pandemic has created a situation where so many of the inequities that were already existing have now risen to the surface. So not only our partners, but also our community leaders, are beginning to see some of the disparities that were existing before that have now just been magnified because of the pandemic. So it gives us an opportunity to begin looking at things that need to be addressed on a deeper level, and Healthcare Georgia Foundation is so supportive and instrumental in this process. 21 “Your efforts to help families in Cook County are beyond amazing. How wonderful it is to read your newsletters and to see how much you are doing to make a difference. It actually dawned on me that we have not had as many patients from Cook County that have identified with any social needs, especially food. I truly believe that is because of all the work Cook County Family Connection and partners are doing in their community. Thank you so much for all that you are doing…Especially in these hard times!” -A Letter of Thanks to Cook County Family Connection from a Community Health Navigator at Tift Regional Medical/Southwell