Memphis responds to COVID-19 with local food and food worker relief resources

Note: With new information coming in daily, some resources and information may be missing or inaccurate, though updates have been added where possible. We are working on a regularly updated, comprehensive list of resources and will link to that article here when it is available. 

With the number of nationwide COVID-19 cases rapidly rising, the country is facing more than just a health crisis. There are major concerns and near constant conversation about workers and the economy, kids and education, civil liberties, food systems, shipping infrastructures, and how to deal with a national case of cabin fever.

Locally, Memphians are already coming together to find solutions. 

Over the next few weeks, High Ground will work to keep readers informed of local efforts.

We're grounding our COVID-19 coverage in our existing missions and models. We will:
  • Elevate the voices of those most on-the-ground and those most affected 
  • Focus on the people and solutions that are making a difference
  • Examine impacts at the neighborhood level and on the city's most vulnerable communities
Stay tuned for stories centering local youth and parents, entrepreneurs and small business owners, low-income Memphians, teachers and healthcare providers, people in service and entertainment industries, and more. 

In the meantime, we rounded up some local resources for one of the biggest current concerns -- food access and food service workers. The list of resources is growing daily and we're sure to have missed some. If you know of a resource worth adding, reach out on social media or email us at [email protected] 

Safer Shopping Hour at Fresh Market
From 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each morning, Fresh Market is asking young, healthy shoppers to allow Memphis' senior citizens and those who are in other high-risk categories an opportunity for a safer shopping experience at all locations. Participation is strongly encouraged but voluntary. Find out more here. [Update, March 20, 2020: Target and Walmart have now added safer shopping hours on select days of the week.]

Virtual Tip Jar for Service Industry Workers
Every time you eat a meal or pour a drink at home, consider tipping a server or bartender through this virtual tip jar. The landing page also has helpful info for workers (like how to file for unemployment) and patrons (like a list of restaurant closures). Find out more here.

Memphis Food Industry Emergency Worker Assistance
A fund that can be accessed by workers whose hours have been curtailed or eliminated because of this crisis and who are not being otherwise compensated. Though the assistance now is just for industry workers, in the future it may also be used for short-term loans to business owners who have been impacted. Find out more here.

Emergency Food Assistance
School children can receive a free meal from Shelby County Schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here for a list of meal distribution sites for children under 18 years of age. [Update: March 20, 2020: As of today, SCS is no longer distributing free meals]

MIFA is still providing meals to seniors and an extra week of provisions to all of its clients. The Mid-South Food Back is working on multi-week food boxes for those most in need and asking for cash donations here.

Neighborhood Christian Centers are providing emergency food relief and seeking donations to aid that effort. If you're in need of assistance, you can apply here. You can donate here.

Memphis Public Libraries' LINC 2-1-1 is operating Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. LINC helps answer questions and connects people to resources for food, utilities, housing, and more. Access LINC here or dial 2-1-1 on any phone.

Order To-Go Without Parking Ticket Worries 
Many restaurants are closing dining rooms but are still offering to-go orders. The City of Memphis has announced it is providing on-street parking relief for food delivery vehicles at various locations in Downtown and Midtown. They are relaxing meter enforcement to allow on-street parking at no charge in front of restaurants. But restricted areas are still in effect so mind those driveways and fire hydrants.

A Note on Grocery Stores
Grocery stores are continuously replenishing supplies. We should all carefully plan to avoid multiple trips to the store, but there's no need to hoard essentials. Hoarding stresses shoppers, supplies, staff, shipping industries, and much more.

Beyond Food

Here are some other local resources for people affected by COVID-19:Ways to Keep Kids and Adults Safe and Engaged During Social Distancing:
As of today, all City of Memphis community centers and libraries are closed to the public but public parks and golf courses remain open. [Update, March 20, 2020: Golf courses are now closed.] Getting outside is safe and great for physical and mental health. Just keep 10 feet between you and people who are not in your household. Here are some other ways to keep busy:

Read more articles by Cole Bradley.

Cole Bradley is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis. Cole's worked locally as a researcher and community engagement strategist and began contributing to High Ground in Jan 2017. 
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