Feeling Less Than Human During COVID-19
Abandoned. Lost. Angry. Ostracized. Harassed. Defeated. Less than human. These are just some of the emotions our guests and community members at the Elijah’s Promise Community Soup Kitchen are feeling right now. COVID-19 has completely upended countless lives. We serve upwards of four times as many meals in a single day right now as we did this time last year, the result of at least half of all households in the United States experiencing job or wage losses.
But in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, some of our community’s most vulnerable members have been impacted the hardest. Government offices are closed or serving at limited hours. Public spaces like libraries and parks that typically serve as safe spaces for people who are unhoused are off limits. Work is limited and pay is slashed, making access to federal benefits more arduous than ever. All the while, even safe havens like Elijah’s Promise cannot let people into our kitchen to wash up or shelter from inclement weather.
To compound the difficulties many face, one of the most essential resources for wading through this crisis is inaccessible to so many people: information. With so many typical sources of information closed, a language barrier for those whom English is not their first language, and a general uncertainty over what information is accurate and from whom it can be trusted, the frustration among our guests and clients is often palpable. While some have access to personal protective equipment and are practicing social distancing, many others do not have access, do not understand the importance of distancing, or, especially for unhoused members of our communities, their circumstances simply do not allow them the luxury of sheltering in place.
Nonetheless, our community is resilient. Despite the outstanding hurdles, our community has managed to bound them all so far. Elijah’s Promise continues to operate at full throttle, serving more than 300 guests a hot lunch and a bagged dinner every day. These are record numbers and reflect a nearly quadrupling of output over this time last year. We have partnered with local organizations, the city government, and New Brunswick schools to help implement safe places for folks to shower, wash, and relieve themselves. Community Soup Kitchen guests and Promise Garden Club members are banding together to help disseminate key health and safety information to their friends and neighbors. Nobody is going through this crisis alone.
Through this crisis, Elijah’s Promise is committed to feeding every guest that comes to our door, providing continued social services to our clients, relaying all of the most current and accurate information to our community by every safe means available to us, and above all, maintaining the health and safety of our guests and staff. We will not likely return to pre-crisis levels of service for a long time. Until then, we will do everything in our power to support the abandoned, the lost, the angry, and the defeated, all with the utmost dignity and respect.
About the Grantee
Elijah’s Promise harnesses the power of food to break the cycle of poverty, alleviate hunger, and change lives. We fight to end hunger through serving good food for all at our community soup kitchen, providing education and jobs in the food industry through our Promise Culinary School, a community garden, community advocacy, and creating social enterprise food businesses that further social good.