Adaptability and Accountability
If someone would have told us last Spring that our lives would be changed (to varying degrees) this much by May 2020, most of us would have shrugged it off as a conspiracy theorists sham. At this time, we all can recognize that this world of social distancing is our new reality. A light has been shone onto each crevasse of our Public Health system, causing us to rapidly evaluate and determine what is working and what is not.
As science continues to pave the way for reliable information and we learn more about how our lives will need to be adjusted as we return to ‘a new altered normal’, there are a series of questions that need to be asked in regards to food access (and beyond) for adults and children with disabilities in New Jersey:
- How can we ensure individuals are not ‘left behind’ due to discrimination and lack of accessibility when accessing meals/foods?
- How can we address intersectionalities such as gender identity, age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, legal status, and other intersecting forms of discrimination that are resulting in increased marginalization in local response efforts?
- How will our response and recovery reflect inclusivity in regards to intersectionalities to best serve our community during times of economic and social burden?
Our Governor has stated “Public Health equals Economic Wealth” and this statement speaks volumes. Accounting for the health and wellness of people of all backgrounds and abilities is necessary in order to attain a culture of health for all New Jerseyans.
As an organization we are continuing with our efforts with identifying and connecting families to local supports. We are collaborating and participating in efforts with the NJVOAD through their Food Distribution Workgroups and with the NJ Food Trust through their Stakeholder meetings. We have expanded our Environment Scan to include a series of surveys that will identify the needs of our direct support professionals who are the essential frontline providers for individuals with disabilities who reside in their homes. We have adapted our Health Insurance Navigator Program not only for assisting people with applications and appeals for health insurance but simultaneously connecting them to the resources, programs, and services they need NOW. We are developing and maintaining the Center on Nutrition and Disability County-Based Food Resource Bank in efforts to strengthen our Information & Referral systems. Most importantly, we are connecting New Jerseyans to the resources they need most during these challenging times – food access, housing, health insurance, mental health resources, support groups, and the list continues, as sheltering in place ensues.
As we prepare for a cautious return to our ‘new normal’, we are striving to ensure the inclusivity of people with disabilities in the redefined prioritization of the Public’s Health.
Disability Inclusive Resources:
About the Grantee
The Family Resource Network is an inclusive group of community programs and services designed to meet the growing needs of individuals and families with disabilities. From mobility assistance to educational programs for children with intellectual & developmental disabilities, to scholarship opportunities and healthy eating and fitness programs- we aim to bridge gaps for the families we serve.