Fighting food insecurity + more in the face of COVID-19—Birmingham takes the lead

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Stocked up and ready to go. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham.

Help—how do we help? It’s a question on the top of social media feeds, in work conversations and discussed among Birmingham’s nonprofits. Despite the situation raging on outside, nonprofits know they have a job to complete—serve Birmingham. Let’s look at how they’re meeting the needs of our residents, and most importantly, how we can too.

Serving in a time of intense unknowingness

That’s a lot of diapers! Thankfully, the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama allows the JLB to use a section of their warehouse for storage of the diapers for the Diaper Bank. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham

You know how there are generally just a lot of events happening in the world that require us to lend aid? I guess 2020 decided it didn’t want to be like previous years and swept us with a multitude of tragedies, leaving us stranded with less of the question, “Where do we help” but “How do we help.”

Adjustments were made, pieces of the puzzle rearranged, but it still left our Birmingham neighbors desiring the same help they needed pre-pandemic. As a nonprofit that is so tightly connected to the needs of our city’s residents, the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) didn’t have a choice but to continue on with the help of additional nonprofits.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s been a bit of an adjustment from the usual work we’re able to do in the community, and many of our community partners have had to postpone, reschedule, or cancel previously scheduled Junior League of Birmingham volunteer activities. However, we still have several community placements up and running, and there is still great work going on in the community.”

Donya Deal, Volunteer Vice President 2019-2020, Junior League of Birmingham

The JLB donates over 55,0000 volunteer hours every year and supports 39 programs that most likely impact you or someone you know directly. So, needless to say pandemic or no pandemic they have a lot of people relying on their efforts.

Organizations and nonprofits partner to give help

Fighting food insecurity, mentoring young women and providing support to front-line workers are just a few ways you can help with the JLB. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham

The best place to start, whether you’re looking to receive or give help, is by reaching out to the JLB directly. Maybe you’re with an organization or nonprofit who wants to partner with them, maybe you’re an individual who desires to make a change in Birmingham.

The JLB also offers several different communities and assistance grants and scholarships too. It’s all an ask away to not only work with the JLB, but also many additional organizations like Project Hope, Vineyard Family Services and One Place Metro.

Preventing food insecurity

BackPack Buddies

Despite not being able to meet to pack meals for children facing food insecurity, BackPack Buddies was still able to fund 320 emergency food boxes every month. Vineyard Family Services has been delivering the boxes to children and families every week through their distribution sites.

Second Servings

Thankfully, the Second Servings program has also been able to continue delivering food to both Project Hope and Youth Towers. Both organizations work to keep homeless and at-risk teens off the streets and provide them with warm meals.

Mobile Food Pantry

JLB’s partnership with the Mobile Food Pantry funded and supported 160 families in Tarrant one Saturday a month. Each household receives a box of shelf-stable items as well as meat and produce. But what about when COVID-19 hit our city?

Normally, our JLB volunteers would also distribute the meals, but, under the circumstances, medical students who have the protective gear and training to manage the distribution have been volunteering as temporary JLB members. 

Donya Deal

That’s right—it didn’t stop their efforts and with the COVID food drive organized through One Place Metro and various other nonprofits, volunteers were able to help deliver over 400 sack lunches a week in April.

Additional programs

Girls Inc.

The JLB’s project with Girls Inc. had to get creative and took their sessions online so they could continue to connect with and mentor young girls in Birmingham. Topics include self-esteem, interviewing skills, professional etiquette, cultural awareness, college prep, financial aid, teen dating violence, and body image. 

The JLB Diaper Bank

While everyone else was stocking up on toilet paper, volunteers were focused on diapers for this reason: no mother should have to choose between diapering their child or feeding them.

The JLB Diaper Bank is continuing to make weekly diaper deliveries to agencies and families in need. In fact, this year alone they’ve delivered over 600,000 diapers!

Supporting first reponders and essential workers

Drop your letters of encouragement for essential workers at the JLB office. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham

Lauren Cater, chair of Little Leaguers—a volunteer program for 6-10-year-olds— organized a letter drive for frontline and essential workers. There is a drop off bin at the JLB where anyone can drop a note of encouragement and gratitude to essential and healthcare workers.

Cards and letters continue to be delivered to City of Birmingham First Responders, Essential workers, Healthcare workers at UAB and other medical centers like Brookwood, St. Vincent’s and Grandview.

  • Show your support by dropping a note at 2212 20th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35223

How will you help today, Birmingham? Let us know on social @bhamnow.

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